I remember seeing the first project I worked on being built when I was 21. It was a roundabout in Highbury Corner, London. I’ll never forget that memory. To be able to say, “I’ve helped shape that design” – that’s what keeps you going, knowing you’re making a difference somewhere.
My interest in engineering started when I was at school. I always wanted to do something related to design, so I picked A-Levels which meant I could study engineering. All my friends were going to university or taking a gap year, but I wanted to get some work experience. So when I found out about apprenticeships, everything just clicked into place. Apprenticeships pay for your degree, enable you to learn about engineering on the job, and progress into a professional career; it’s a win-win.
The main thing that attracted me to WSP was the people. Even during the interview process, it felt like a family culture and the communication was so easy. I had come from having no work experience to joining a massive corporate company. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt welcome from the moment I started.
It’s this open-minded and forward-thinking work culture that has helped to shape me into the engineer I am today. As part of WSP’s Future Ready initiative, we’re always thinking about the future impact of our designs rather than just focusing on the now. For example, thinking about where to place tactile paving to help the visually impaired when designing a new road. Knowing the impact of these details helps you to question your decisions and ask yourself, “Have I done enough? Have I thought about wheelchair users? Have I thought about cyclists? Have I thought about how sloping is going to affect drainage?”. It was a mentor who taught me this thought process eight years ago, and I still use it today.
The other thing that attracted me was the number of different departments and opportunities to try various disciplines. When I first started, my managers would always ask if projects were in line with my development. I worked with the highways team on projects with Transport for London, Crossrail, and local government, designing roads and footpaths. As a CAD technician, I used computer-aided software to create technical drawings and plans for construction. I then learned about different types of design and modelling in 3D – from the original sketches to full designs and models. Building this base knowledge gave me independence and confidence to progress and work on a massive scale with HS2, the high-speed network that will transform Britain’s transport network.
The thread that weaves my work together is the people. Throughout my apprenticeship, I was able to turn to anyone for help and they would go out of their way to offer their support. They helped me to move from the highways team to an assistant project manager role, where I coordinate design, budgets and programmes. I want to pay forward all the support they have offered me to my team and the projects I manage.
My goals now are to become a project manager, to meet all the criteria and objectives within the Incorporated Engineer Review (IEng) with the Institution of Civil Engineers, and to manage a massive design like HS2. Nothing is more rewarding than to see something I have designed and know that my input has made a difference.
WSP’s apprenticeship scheme