Ask an engineer: Emma

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), we’ve asked six of our women engineers a series of questions about how engineering affects their lives and careers, as well as their thoughts on future innovation. 

Emma is our Construction Director for Interconnectors.

 

On becoming and being an engineer:

What inspired you to become an engineer?

During the final year of my Environmental Geosciences degree, I was sponsored by an Environmental Consultancy, which gave me an insight into geotechnical engineering. I then graduated as a geotechnical engineer.

What barriers (if any) have you encountered in your career?

Typically engineering is male dominated. This has sometimes fed my imposter syndrome, however I have now identified that I can bring various strengths to those environments, including my energy and diverse thinking.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d provide for potential future women in engineering?

There are many different forms of engineering, for example electrical, civil, geotechnical and chemical. If you find yourself in an environment in which you are not an expert, like being a geotechnical engineer in an electrical engineering environment, surround yourself with people that enjoy providing insights into their expertise. Individuals enjoy sharing their expertise, so just ask for help.

Emma Ford

 

On working in the energy industry:

How do you think being a woman engineer has shaped your career experience so far?

Being a mother has made me an empathetic leader, which helps in the construction environment, which can predominately be ‘macho’ male environments.

What has surprised you most about working in engineering?

I didn’t expect it to be so dynamic, when it is based on science and mathematics.

How is your work changing the industry for the better?

As Construction Director in Interconnectors, National Grid Ventures, I’m responsible for constructing key assets, which transport net zero energy between the UK and European countries.
 


On a more personal level:

Has your job influenced how you approach other areas of your life?

By being structured at work, (as this is key in construction engineering environments), I am also structured in my personal life. I find the space to carve up time for my husband and son. This has been beneficial for maintaining a work life balance, which is always a challenge in this industry as typically you don’t live near to your construction portfolio.

What qualities do you have that make you good at what you do?

Inspiring and developing others, and creating team environments where individuals enjoy coming to work. This is beneficial in any work environments, as it means you get the best out of individuals and this in turn results in delivering successful projects.

Did you have an engineering role model that inspired you?

I wasn’t surrounded by engineering when I grew up, I was just passionate about the environment and so this led me into the industry.
 


On innovation and the future of engineering:

What innovative technologies or advances in engineering do you find most exciting?

I get really excited by advances that get us closer to reaching net zero targets quicker. I have a career within the renewable and sustainability industries and it’s great when advances are made within these industries, to protect the environment.

What are you working on, or have worked on, that’s considered innovative?

Within the construction industry, individuals are more likely to take their own life, because they are away from home and working long hours. On the current project I’m leading, we’ve provided a health hub on site, which is an industry first. This hub provides 24-hour facilities like healthy eating, gym facilities, outdoor spaces and relaxation environments for those on site. This is important as the project is 24/7 and therefore very intense. The hub will also be used as the basis for research to start to transform the construction industry.
 

Meet more of National Grid’s women engineers