Defying Expectations

Nivari Jayasinghe, Principal Environmental Scientist for Contaminated Land Management in our Environment team, has been with WSP since 2009.

Her reasons for joining the firm were simple. She says, “My first manager played an influential role in my decision to take up a role with WSP. He demonstrated the upmost passion for his field and a commitment to empowering and developing people. To me, this showed a level of care that is hard to find, and I see it reflected across the firm through our Guiding Principles.”

For almost a decade, Nivari has been dedicated to the technical aspect of her role. She believes this is something that has held her in good stead. She says, “To lead people, you need – first and foremost to be approachable and understand the potential in each individual but it also helps to know your technical craft inside and out. This gives you the ability to understand the depth and breadth of a problem and work with a team in leading towards a solution for the client”.

Building her expertise on a project that has continued for almost the entirety of her career at WSP, Nivari says, “The work has been intense and energetic but it has been an awesome experience, and one that has continued to defy expectations.

“While I have certainly developed my technical skills, the biggest reward has been the impact on my self-confidence. Believing in myself and knowing that I am making a positive contribution to the business has helped me to grow professionally, particularly in terms of my leadership and project management skills.

Outside of managing projects and fostering client relationships, Nivari is balancing career and family life. “I’m currently taking advantage of WSP’s flexible working arrangements, working four days a week.

“It’s important that I spend extra time at home with my family. My daughters and I love our time at the local dance studio and it is something I truly cherish. We are right into Bharatanatyam which is a form of classical Indian dance. It is very structured and regimented but also quite spiritual and relaxing.”

So, What Lies Ahead?

To reach a gender-balanced workforce Nivari believes we need to keep the conversation active. She says, “If we don’t keep the dialogue in the present, then we lose relevance. If we can successfully align professional careers and private lives, then we will go a long way to reaching our goals. Above all, I think we need to encourage women to be brave and apply for leadership roles – everyone has a chance, based on merit.”

From a career perspective, Nivari is passionate about sharing some of the lessons she has learnt with the next generation. She says, “It is really important that we pass on our experiences on so that we learn, adapt and drive innovation.

“I believe that we spend too much time focusing on our weaknesses and not enough time building our strengths. I’d like to use my leadership skills to help influence this.”

Looking at the environment sector, Nivari is seeing a shift towards corporate social responsibility. She says, “With government spending on the environment as a percentage of GDP decreasing, we have a responsibility – as individuals – to advocate for the natural environment and encourage private and public organisations as well as communities to get more involved.”


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