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This year’s summer placement scheme was a virtual success

Every summer, as part of our summer placement scheme, we offer an eight-week placement to students from all degree years to help them develop a network of relationships inside our company and to get a feel for the professional skills and behaviours required for our Graduate Development Programme. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, inviting 60 students into our offices wasn’t an option. So instead of postponing the scheme, we decided to create our first virtual summer placement. The objective for the two-week work programme was to enhance our employer brand while giving students an unforgettable, meaningful experience of what it’s like to work in our business.  "The outbreak of COVID-19 during prime internship season meant students were struggling to find work experience, as most companies cancelled their summer internships. We knew we needed to do better. This project was one of the most rewarding I've been a part of. The students who took part now have credible work experience to add to their CVs in a very competitive and turbulent recruitment season," says one of the organisers, Francesca Louise Quinn, Data Analyst, ADS&T. The virtual format gave the team organising the programme a new opportunity to bring students together for a cohesive introduction to our culture as well as the chance to share issues close to their hearts, from mental health wellbeing to diversity and inclusion. The activities they took part in included Q&A sessions with our managing directors and young professionals; workshops about resilience, personal brand, mental health and wellbeing, and growth mindset; and a team challenge to sustainably expand an airport in a post-COVID world. The students also had access to 11 current graduate and apprentice mentors whose purpose was to guide them through the experience, provide encouragement and advice, and answer questions from the perspective of an employee. “During our regular summer placements, the students join one division. This year, the virtual placement allowed the students to network and collaborate with peers and employees across our different disciplines, which gave them an exciting look at how projects really work. When the project team started putting together this mega virtual event, it felt daunting at first; but everyone was up to the challenge and was willing to pitch in and help. We’ve not only pulled it off but have inspired many students to come back to join our Graduate Development Programme,” adds Katie Cockerton, Talent Attraction Analyst.  Read what some of the students had to say about the virtual placement: "Thank you for this opportunity. It was above and beyond what I was expecting, and I'm very grateful to have been involved in it!" Eleanor Waring, Civil and Structural Engineering Student at University of Leeds "Today sadly marks the end of my two-week virtual placement. Having already completed a year-in-industry back in 2018, I was very excited to be back. I'm amazed at how much content and information was packed into the past two weeks. Thank you for putting together such a great experience for us. From workshops on personal development and growth mindset to talks on consultancy skills and presentations from senior members – this placement had it all!" Charlier Pindar, Fourth Year Mechanical Engineering Student, University of Leeds "I've been taught some invaluable skills and had the opportunity to work with some great people to complete a team challenge. This involved producing short- and long-term proposals to upgrade an airport for increased passenger numbers and added COVID safety measures. Today we completed our presentations, and I'm so happy to say that our team won the challenge!" Katie Males, Student at University of Bristol

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Embedding Sustainability in Infrastructure Design to ‘Save Our Planet’

Meet Divya Deepankar, Sustainability Consultant based in the Planning and Environmental Consenting team for the Infrastructure business at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin group. Over the last 18 months,she has been working at Atkins and leading on embedding sustainability in design on major infrastructure projects such as Highways, Airports, Railways, Water industry, etc. #InsideAtkins caught up with her to hear her thoughts on Sustainability.  What motivated you to choose a career in Sustainability? My earliest memory of learning about Sustainability is the Annual Day school play I participated in at the age of 6, over two decades ago. The play portrayed the animal kingdom dealing with the crisis of forest depletion due to human activity. I played the role of an activist, and for 3 weeks rehearsed the following poem holding a placard that read – 'SAVE OUR PLANET' My personal penchant for environmental concern stems largely from the changes I have witnessed in my hometown Hyderabad, India where the overexploitation of natural resources and wilderness areas has led to an increase in air pollution and extreme weather conditions. Two decades ago, peak temperatures in Hyderabad averaged 38°C while the hottest day in 2019 was 43°C!  Determined to do my bit to ‘SAVE OUR PLANET’, I took up Civil Engineering in under-graduation specialising in Environmental Engineering, and pursued a Masters in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford to thereafter pursue a career in Sustainability within the infrastructure sector. What does Sustainability in Infrastructure design mean to you?  Sustainability is a multi-facetted topic covering all aspects of environment, social and economic well-being. At Atkins, it is fundamental to how we think about infrastructure design. Just as I completed my MSc course in September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development based on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which provides an excellent framework to the three pillars of sustainability.  With the backdrop of the UN SDG’s, I have employed my academic knowledge and skills to focus my career on three goals – Goal 11, Goal 9 and Goal 13 to develop and accelerate implementation of sustainable solutions in the building and infrastructure sector which also coincidentally aligned with SNC-Lavalin’s Sustainable Business Strategy. I am passionate about driving my career working on projects where I can improve the sustainability performance of new developments and infrastructure projects, challenge the current practices and contribute towards the overall body of knowledge.  Tell us about some interesting projects you have recently worked on? As a Sustainability Consultant at Atkins based in their Infrastructure team, I work for both private and public sector clients some of whom include- Highways England, Heathrow, Network Rail, Local authorities’, Water companies, etc.  I am currently the Sustainability Lead on the BBA Delivery Integration Partnership Schemes for Highways England and have absolutely enjoyed the challenge of pushing our design teams and engaging with the contractor and client early in the project design to achieve improved sustainability performance by implementing our award-winning Sustainability Framework Tool based approach at each stage of design. Good stakeholder engagement and collaboration are key to achieve exemplar sustainability performance. For example, on the A2Bean Ebbsfleet Junction improvements scheme, measures have been applied throughout the Scheme design to avoid any loss of designated sites, ancient woodlands and ancient trees, and reduce losses of veteran trees and other habitats such as broadleaved woodland through collaboration with the design team, ecology experts and contractors. These measures have in turn helped to reduce adverse effects on protected and priority wildlife species.  Earlier this year, I worked on a very interesting and impactful project - the ‘Heathrow Asset Management Low Carbon Design Programme’ where Atkins is collaborating with Heathrow and their stakeholders, to develop a low-carbon design process and applying it to a pilot of seven projects across their £1.3bn capital value Asset Management Programme. I worked as a carbon management expert on the T3 Service Subway Renewals project to deliver a whole-life carbon assessment, to identify carbon hotspots and therefore reduction opportunities early in design. On this project, our aim was to help Heathrow understand and address the carbon performance of the replacement works for service supports and secondary steelworks repairs. The combined carbon saving achieved across the programme so far is 16,080 tonnes CO2e (38% average reduction across each of the four projects), which is roughly equivalent to annual emissions from 2,000 average UK homes . This was achieved through implementation of the low-carbon design process and resulting carbon reduction measures identified in carbon workshops. I am proud to say that our team has been nominated for the IEMA Sustainability Impact Awards 2020 in the category – ‘Consultancy and Collaboration’!        What do you love about working at Atkins? Atkins is a leading global consultancy which gives me the opportunity to work on complex infrastructure projects. Our biggest strength is the level of expertise that the industry leading experts working at Atkins bring and with over 18,000 employees working worldwide, I really appreciate and thoroughly enjoy how much I can learn from my peers and seniors. As an employer Atkins truly cares about its people and understands that a good work-life balance is key to build a great team. The flexible and agile working was supported well before home working became the norm in 2020. Life at Atkins has allowed me to pursue my hobbies and interests outside my job which is extremely important for my mental health and physical well-being.  What keeps you challenged and motivated at Atkins? Given the scale of the organisation, there are plenty of opportunities to expand my skills, work on challenging projects, gain global experience and develop continuously. In addition to delivering projects, I consider the development and improvement of Atkins’ internal sustainability practices and services, a challenging aspect of my role.  Soon after joining Atkins, I realized that I could make significant improvements to our work winning efficiency and standardise the sustainability responses across the infrastructure division. So, I worked with our business development team and discipline leads across Infrastructure to develop a go-to document called Bid Answers Tool for Sustainability that our internal teams could use for business development, work winning opportunities, to understand our sustainability capabilities and identify key subject matters . In a span of five months alone, I was very proud to see that this document had been visited 13,502 times with ~800 unique users. As sustainability is a constantly evolving subject, I continue to undertake quarterly reviews to update the document for our internal teams. How does Atkins support your career development and interests? Continuous professional development is essential for me to keep growing in my career. I have recently become a Chartered Environmentalist with the Society for the Environment and a Full Member of IEMA which is the gold standard for environment and sustainability professionals who are setting agendas and leading initiatives within their organisations. Atkins has supported me in this journey by guiding me from the onset and helping me prepare for my interview.  I am quite passionate about communicating on embedding sustainability in infrastructure design both internally and externally. As Atkins’ (UK & Europe) Sustainable Business Strategy Communication Lead, I have the opportunity to do this across our business. I have led our sustainability communication in collaboration with our marketing team and sustainability experts by conducting internal events for London Climate Week, developing our sustainability capabilities brochure, undertaking internal and external communication around key awareness days such as World Wetlands Day, International Volunteering Day, internal presentation of key sustainability initiatives across the business, encouraging the staff to use their volunteering days, etc.  I also recently delivered a virtual guest lecture at the NSS College of Engineering, India to speak about the process of embedding sustainability in design and careers in sustainability for engineers which was attended by 115 people. I hope to continue to inspire more people to pursue a career in sustainability through opportunities like these. What do you think are the key skills required to excel as a Sustainability Consultant?  As a Sustainability professional in any sector, you must have strong technical expertise and communication skills with a diverse array of knowledge, experience and competencies across the three pillars of sustainability (environmental, economic and social). In my career I have worked with private organisations, public sector groups and government bodies each with very different approaches but found that a strong technical knowledge with excellent communication skills are key to build a good relationship and collaboratively deliver solutions that have excellent outcomes. By working across a diverse set of clients at Atkins, I have expanded my skills base, experience and been exposed to different operating systems and working cultures.  Sustainability is a constantly evolving subject which needs dynamic solutions and hence one needs to be aware of new research, development and policies at local, regional, national and international level. In many ways, COVID-19 is resetting the world as we know it and it is important to adapt and find innovative solutions to our clients’ problems. Most importantly, I think a good Sustainability professional needs to be passionate, assertive, and take the initiative to lead and deliver impactful solutions.  What is your message to young people seeking to pursue a career in Sustainability?  Sustainability is not an option, it is at the heart of how we think about everything on a day to day basis! 

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Economy plus ecology: how wildlife habitat innovations are just one legacy of the A14 upgrade

When Atkins worked as part of a joint venture to undertake detailed design responsibilities for the major A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, our decade-long ecological understanding of the scheme also enabled us to introduce new innovations in biodiversity mitigation.  The A14 is a major trunk road whose terminals are the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk and junction 19 of the M1 in Leicestershire. It serves much traffic – from container lorries to heavy local traffic, especially around Cambridge. A key section of the £1.5 billion upgrade for Highways England was the 12-mile Huntingdon southern bypass, which opened to traffic in December 2019, one year ahead of schedule.  Improving traffic flow  The scheme was given the go-ahead because objectives included a number of future benefits: improving traffic flow between East Anglia and the Midlands, boosting local economies, cutting up to 20 minutes off average journey times, better-connected surrounding communities – especially for walkers and cyclists – and improving the route’s surrounding wildlife habitats. Teams had to work together to support the Development Consent Order – the level of permission needed for infrastructure developments categorised as nationally significant – which involved piloting new approaches and innovations as set out in the order. This included “a clearly demonstrable legacy for the local community beyond the physical presence of the new road.” This meant protecting and supporting indigenous species of wildlife and plants in the area and mitigating any negative effects of the road construction.  As principle environmental consultant at Atkins, Jean Coultas led the ecological team’s work, liaising with partners and the five subcontractor companies who delivered the overall scheme. The ecological team’s initial task involved working with transport planners on a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that environmental statements met statutory requirements, gaining licenses in a timely manner to avoid delays and cost, and then as work got underway, creating new areas where biodiversity could thrive, supported by sensitive new planting schemes.   Ecological challenges  Jean said: “In a geographical area such as the flatlands of Cambridgeshire there are a significant number of ecological challenges. The water table is high, so drainage is generally poor, and the location is surrounded by flood compensation areas. So, we had to use the situation to the best advantage. For example, when we dug borrow pits nearby – to use earth for the new road – rather than bring in the soil needed from other locations, we didn’t fully refill them but instead created small lakes as new wildlife habitats.” Indeed, these have resulted in,  more than a square mile being created as new wildlife habitats across 18 different areas. They have been carefully planted to encourage various indigenous species and habitats, including protected species like great crested newts. The habitats were also link-planted into existing woodland, so as to create a line of hedgerow to connect one area to another, which encourages dormice, also a protected species.  High corridors and wildlife tunnels  Jean added: “We also added plenty of high planting across main routes for bats and barn owls, creating a corridor high enough to protect them from any traffic. We also built 24 wildlife tunnelsacross the scheme to give animals a safe place to cross, supported by directional planting to persuade them to take safer routes.” Planting also now screens some lighting and signage, and specimen-size trees were planted to connect the scheme with nearby villages.  Landscaping also involved realigning a river into a horseshoe shape to adjust the water course, so it worked with, and not against, surrounding flood compensation areas due to the variation of ground levels of the overall scheme. Thisled to movement of ground that had archaeological implications. There was also a new requirement to reassess the area for any archaeological finds ahead of changes being made,following a ground radar-type geophysical survey and the digging of trial trenches. The fascinating finds made national and international news, including  remains of woolly mammoths and rhinos, remains of a medieval village and rare Roman coins.   Clear communication  New technologies also helped the team work together to deliver new innovation into the project, such as the direct transfer of field data into an interactive GIS system, to share knowledge more widely with partners. The ecology team also led weekly telecoms meetings, and clear lines of communication were business as usual, which helped partners to respond efficiently in securing what was needed in terms of provisioning for the project; such as engaging with stakeholders and being granted ecological licences in time to avoid delays to the construction programme.  Many valuable learnings have come out of the scheme, and to capture them for future use the ecology team has undertaken Highways England’s first ‘ecosystem services valuation’ – designed to capture and share the evidence of benefits in this scheme in a new and easily understandable way.   As a consequence of this, the team is also working with the overall scheme contractors to expand the valuation, to allow the net balance of biodiversity gains and losses to be recorded. Jean said: “It’s important to introduce this level of biodiversity innovation into schemes of this size. Not only to meet the UK’s aspirations for positive impacts across our road networks, but also because with this scheme we have proven that you can introduce and enhance wildlife habitats in a cost-effective way.”

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Meet Liam, North West Ally of The Year

Liam Dempsey is an Assistant Engineer within our Transportation business. He joined the Warrington office as a first-year graduate almost three years ago and at the moment, is involved with the design of the East West Rail acoustic barriers and the structural monitoring for the M60 Barton High Level Bridge.  Earlier this year, Liam was recognised by both Stonewall and Building Equality with the North West Ally of The Year Award for his efforts to promote diversity within the construction industry, particularly on behalf of the LGBT+ community. #InsideAtkins took this opportunity to have a chat with Liam about why supporting the LGBT+ community is important to him and what it means to be an ally.  Earlier this year, you were recognised by Stonewall, an LGBT+ charity and Building Equality, an alliance of companies that support LGBT+ people in the construction industry. How did these achievements come about? I got involved in promoting diversity in the construction industry, particularly on behalf of the LGBT+ community, because I saw numerous engineering companies marching at Manchester Pride in 2018 and was surprised not to see our business there. Soon after, I reached out to our regional LGBT+ network (Equilibrium) to see if I could assist in getting us involved in Manchester Pride 2019.  I joined our internal network and became a Manchester Building Equality representative for the Atkins business, which opened up doors to meet like-minded individuals across the construction industry. I was really proud that we were able to contribute funds and get our LGBT+ colleagues marching alongside other construction companies at Manchester Pride last year. I’ve also been working on our internal diversity and inclusion roadshows. I’ve organised the Warrington and Glasgow events, where I was able to bring together representatives from the other employee networks and give them a platform to discuss key topics with colleagues.  You’ve been recognised by the industry for your ally-ship. What does being an ally mean and how do allies benefit the LGBT+ community? An LGBT+ ally is somebody who supports the rights of LGBT+ people, and I believe most people are allies. Personally, I want people to feel comfortable with their sexuality and gender in all aspects of their lives, including their workplace. As the vast majority of people are straight, in order to promote LGBT+ equality in society and workplaces, support is needed from everyone.    Why is it important to you to be actively involved with the LGBT+ community and to support them? It’s important to me because I want to educate myself. I feel comfortable at work and therefore, I want other people to have that same comfort. For people to perform to their best ability, they must feel like they can bring their whole selves to work.  Historically, the construction industry has had a bad reputation and a tendency for graduates to go back into the closet when they start work. This has to change from a mental health and productivity perspective. I hope my ally-ship has helped others, and I’m really keen that my story might motivate others to continue pushing this forward.  What more do you think we as a business could do to highlight the importance of allyship? For me, one of the best things the company can do is promote the use of the rainbow lanyards, which is a visible display of acceptance and solidarity towards LGBT+ people. Friends have told me that seeing their colleagues wearing a rainbow lanyard makes them feel more comfortable at work as they know colleagues will accept them for who they truly are.  I also think it’s important that everyone feels they can talk about LGBT+ issues even if they accidentally say the wrong thing. As a company we need to create that environment, which allows people to become a vocal ally rather than a bystander. 

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Pritam's incredible journey at Atkins

Pritam Bhojani, Civil Engineering Degree Apprentice, is one of the 2020 BAME apprentice finalists, in the construction services category. #InsideAtkins caught up with him to learn about his incredible journey so far. My apprenticeship got my career off to an excellent start. Upon completing my A-levels I decided to pursue a degree apprenticeship in Civil Engineering as opposed to going down the traditional university route. I am happy to say I have never looked back since. What an incredible journey it has been.  I am eternally grateful for the dynamic opportunities my degree apprenticeship has exposed me to at such an early stage in both my academic and work career. Since embarking on my apprenticeship over a year ago, the experiences and the skills that I have learnt and continuously put into practice have moulded me into the young industrious professional that I am today. I have been allowed to follow my interests. Since starting at Atkins, I have worked on large scale multi-disciplinary infrastructure projects across the UK such as Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf Crossing and Sizewell C – Enabling Works. Working on these high-profile projects gave me the opportunity to work with the Global Design Centre in India to produce models that heavily utilise BIM (Building Information Modelling). I also relished the responsibility to undertake and oversee the production and review of drawings. My performance on these projects was recognised by senior engineers due to the high quality and the delivery of my work. A chance to try out some exciting technologies Having excelled in my last project, I was specifically chosen by one of the senior civil engineers to work on Feltham Re-Signalling, taking on the role of an Assistant Engineer. Working on this project has allowed me to delve deeper and gain a greater insight into the modernisation of old railway infrastructure. As an Assistant Engineer I have been responsible for designing fundamental structures that keep the railway safe and moving. Due to the added complexity and the engineering challenges faced on this project, it has allowed me to pick up great technical knowledge from some of the most experienced engineers within the industry. As well as becoming an engineer, I have recently been liaising with Atkins’ Equality Diversity & Inclusivity network to become a link between the network and the apprentice community. This has especially been prioritised since the recent Black Lives Matter movement. Skills that have made me ready for the world of work. Prior to starting my apprenticeship, I would have never dreamed of been given the abundance of opportunities and responsibilities I have encountered and proudly accomplished thus far. I encourage everyone who is approaching their GCSEs or A-levels to simply spend a few minutes researching the wide range of apprenticeship roles available to students today.  To earn whilst both obtaining a degree and acquiring knowledge from the working world is an exciting and invaluable way to jump-start your career. 

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Meet Neil, Landscape and Urban Design Studio Lead

22 July 2020 #InsideAtkins Podcast uncovers Neil's career of changing urban landscapes Welcome to the #InsideAtkins Podcast with me, Smitha. In this, our very first broadcast, I'm excited to be joined by Neil, Associate Director in Landscape Architecture and Design.  Our theme is Impact and Pride, and Neil tells us all about the exciting projects he's been working on – from shaping our country to make it COVID-safe to creating beautiful, biodiverse places for communities to enjoy. He also shares his career journey and the unexpected ways you can find your way into this rewarding career.  Below are some of Neil's photos, which we discuss on the podcast. To listen to the conversation, join us on Spotify or listen right here: Where the magic happens You can see Neil and his team in the office in one of the meeting rooms. Neil is the one pointing at the plans. Create a Park Competition Neil was part of the team who entered "Parklets," an idea to create mini urban parks by installing planters in parking spaces. Neil is on the far right. Hampstead Heath A dam safety project that adopted an environmentally led approach to integrate with the natural landscape. Key to the City An ideas competition that unlocks the hidden layers of history, culture and heritage through an augmented reality app in the City of London Imagine Using digital technology, the team created fun ways for people of all ages to get outdoors and get active within their communities. Cycling Schemes Creating safe, comfortable spaces that encourage people to get out, walk and cycle. This photo shows the west-facing terrace on the River Thames in Kingston. Celebrating a win Neil and Peter Heath celebrate the public realm architect of the year awards 2019. Neil is on the right. We have been shortlisted for the 2020 awards A big reason to come to work The national landscape and urban and design team at their annual conference in 2019.

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Meet Rachel, ecologist on our Infrastructure team

My dream career, engaging with the biodiversity all around us My name is Rachel, I'm an ecologist at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. I first heard about the organization when reading about the ecology team and their innovative work using trained sniffer dogs to search for protected species. While doing a little more research, I saw an ad for my current role. It was my opportunity to see if Atkins was the right place for me, so I applied. The moment my interview finished, I knew that it was and decided to make the move.  What I do as an ecologist As a consultant ecologist, I assess the potential impacts that projects could have on biodiversity and provide advice to avoid, mitigate or compensate for them. We also come up with measures to enhance the variety of wildlife at certain sites. This will soon become an even bigger part of our role, with the roll-out of biodiversity net gain as a mandatory requirement for many types of development.  An interesting, varied role I generally split my time between field and desk-based work. This split can vary a lot through the seasons, with the bulk of our fieldwork taking place in the spring and summer months. In terms of desk-based tasks, I'll usually be working on reports such as Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs) and Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIAs). On-site, I might survey protected and priority species and habitats, or supervise works on a development that's already under construction.  Why I love working at Atkins The team I work alongside has been incredibly supportive since I joined the organization and they are one of the main reasons I genuinely enjoy coming into work each morning. I also love the variety of the work I get to do and the opportunities I have to work on interesting, high-profile projects. It seems like every week, something new and exciting comes through the door. Delivering what's right for people and the environment I think people are becoming increasingly aware that the best thing for the planet is often the best thing for people. I like to think our work is to protect and enhance biodiversity on our projects at Atkins and this has a knock-on benefit for people, including aesthetic and recreational benefits provided by green spaces.  The projects I've been working on We're currently working on some large road schemes which  require extensive survey work for a variety of protected species. I'm really looking forward to getting out in the field over the spring and summer and spending this time with the rest of the team. It's also great to work on projects that you know are going to have a real benefit to communities and commuters in the long term.  Making a positive, sustainable where it matters to me There are numerous threats to biodiversity in the United Kingdom, with the issues of climate change and plastic waste currently under the spotlight. However, in our industry, the most visible threat is development. Every day we see the potential impacts that this can have on wildlife thriving. One of our biggest opportunities is to incorporate biodiversity enhancements and green spaces into development. Doing this has secondary effects, benefitting the health and mental wellbeing of communities who use these developed spaces. There are some fantastic examples out there – I love seeing green roofs in cities, which are great for biodiversity.  Maintaining a good work-life balance – even during the lockdown Before the pandemic, I liked doing any desk-based work in the office whenever I could but it was always nice to know that I had the freedom to work from home or alter my working hours when needed, so I adjusted to remote working during the lockdown pretty easily. Atkins' flexible culture has reduced some of the pressure that might have come from juggling my personal and professional life. I love having flexibility with my regular working hours too. As I'm at my most productive in the morning, I choose an early start and early finish, which allows me to get the most of the long, light days. Diversity of thought, expertise and knowledge One thing that soon struck me when I joined Atkins was just how competent everyone in my team is – it was almost intimidating. Everyone seems to have their own talents and areas of expertise. The diversity of skills plays a large part in the team working so well together. From incredible technical skills to keeping a cool head under pressure or having a natural ability to deal with people, I'm in awe of, at least, one distinct thing about each colleague. Learning what I'm really capable of at Atkins Atkins has helped me discover that there are so many different routes that I could go down in this industry and that nothing is closed off to me. There are so many inspirational people working here in various roles, including many highly-accomplished women. That has been so encouraging for me as a young woman starting my career.  To graduates who love the planet and want to make a difference If you're looking for an exciting and varied career. If you're passionate about protecting and enhancing biodiversity. If you'd love to work with incredibly talented people, on nationally important projects. A role in Atkins' ecology team may be for you.  Discover more about starting your career at Atkins.

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Pride 2020 - Finding my place to be valued

Breaking down the barriers to understanding Marinder has been at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, for just over eight years. She started as an Administrator and now is the Office Manager for our ADS&T division in Bristol. One of her volunteer roles is working as part of EQUILIBRIUM, our LGBT+ inclusion network. This Pride Month #InsideAtkins caught up with her for a perspective on how the organization is doing when it comes to embracing people with hidden identities. Happy Pride Month, Marinder! Tell us about coming out at Atkins. During my first few years, I didn't feel comfortable sharing my identity with my colleagues. I hadn't come out to friends or family yet – it was something I'd been dealing with in stages. I remember telling my manager first. She just wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big hug. She was happy for me and said she only wishes I'd told her sooner so she could support me. I got the same reaction after telling my team. They never made me feel any different when we chatted about partners they asked about mine, and I quickly became at ease about opening up to them more. What made you join our EQUILIBRIUM network?  I'm a network lead for the Women's Professional Network, and all network leads get together regularly to discuss our keys priorities for the quarter and key focus areas for the year ahead. What EQUILIBRIUM chair, Steven Berry had to say resonated, so I offered my help. I wanted to help others in a similar situation as me, and I also get a lot from it.  When people can't be themselves, how does this impact them in big and subtle ways? I think it can affect people in many ways, some of which will be visible to them and other ways they may not realize until later in life. For me, I avoided doing things, going to places and seeing people, which wasn't the right thing to do, but it felt like the easier option at the time. There are still times I feel like this, as my family is still not fully accepting of who I am almost three years after telling them. It does affect the decisions I make, especially in the short term. It has been important for me to share this with close colleagues, so they understand me better. How does Atkins enable its people to create an environment where everyone can be themselves? EQUILIBRIUM has flourished and provides support to colleagues in many ways. We're launching a mentoring program soon, which will be a great platform for mentors and mentees. The network also impacts HR policies, and some have changed for the better with their input. There are many networks available that support staff and there is lots we can learn from each network. This Pride Month, what do the Stonewall Riots mean to you? History is extremely important. The Stonewall Riots have paved the foundations for the LGBTQ+ community, and without that, things would no doubt be very different today. We certainly have a long way to go, and together we can make a positive difference. During this time of COVID-19, what ways are there for individuals and communities to mark Pride? I've seen online events taking place during this time. Without the parades and festivals, people can still come together virtually, whether through networks or becoming an ally and showing support. The theme for Global Pride 2020 is "Exist. Persist. Resist", how will you take that mantra into your life this month and beyond? I think that theme fits quite well for me and is certainly reminds me to be myself – to be happy with who I am, unashamed, and not to let the negative thoughts and actions of others get me down. This is one for me to remember when making short term and long term plans in the future.  Would you say there is a desire at Atkins to embrace people for who they are? I've seen the diversity of our staff increase in the last five years, which is great! We've moved towards embracing people for who they are and the diversity of thought they're able to display. What one amazing thing has Atkins helped you discover about yourself? Atkins, and more specifically, my line manager, has given me the time and opportunity to be involved with the Diversity & Inclusion networks. It's something I'm passionate about, and I've been able to be a part of a team that makes a difference. I'm not sure if that would have been possible elsewhere, because D&I is not an area of focus for an Office Manager. I'm still very much on my journey with my family, but at work, I know I can be myself, accepted for who I am. Read how we're always improving equality, diversity & inclusion at the organization.

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Pride 2020 Raising LGBT+ visibility and allies at Atkins

"A place to thrive and be true to who I am." Happy Pride Month! It's a complex time for the LGBT+ community. While there is plenty to celebrate, there are still many issues to keep pressing for – not to mention a global pandemic that's dampening festival spirits. In light of it all, we met up with Richard, Graduate Transport Planner in our Transportation business, to hear his perspective. What are some of the most significant issues in the industry for the LGBT+ community? I think Pride Month is giving me a lot to reflect on, particularly given everything that is going on in America and across the world. It's a very testing time, but that doesn't stop any of us from continuing to work towards greater equality and acceptance. I think allyship is more critical now than ever; it is not enough to sit back and let injustices and discrimination run their course. Role models are also vitally important. Lack of visibility has been an issue for me in the past; it motivates people when they know they have a platform and community that will help them excel in their professional and personal lives. As an industry, we need to be more proactive in encouraging diverse talent into our workforce, making sure they feel included, able to take advantage of opportunities and be their authentic selves.  What is work like from where you're sitting? I've been at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, for nearly three years. All this time, I've felt supported and welcomed by my colleagues. But navigating my sexuality in the workplace has not always been easy. While Atkins has a brilliant work culture with a real sense of community, particularly here in the Midlands, I often felt there was a lack of visibility for LGBT+ people.  My instinctive reaction was to hide away initially and not be my true self. However, constantly monitoring my behaviours, mannerisms and sometimes (questionable) dress sense didn't make me feel I could be myself and excel professionally. Joining our EQUILIBRIUM network made me feel I'd found a space within Atkins, where I could break down those barriers and begin to feel much more natural and at ease. I've carried this confidence through to the office, and I'm happy to say I'm now truly comfortable in my surroundings! It has been a process, and I think it's essential for everyone to feel a sense of belonging and the ability to be themselves. While LGBT+ networks are important, at Atkins, everyone, regardless of sexuality, is enabled to help achieve a more inclusive workplace.  How is EQUILIBRIUM advancing workplace equality? The network has developed a series of ally webinars that train staff on how to be strong allies to LGBT+ staff and others. It's imperative that the LGBT+ community is actively supported by allies to achieve a truly inclusive workplace and positively reinforce that culture. We hope that the webinars provide the right resources for all staff members. Our hope is colleagues will educate and empower themselves on LGBT+ issues. We want team members to challenge homophobia and provide constructive criticism for staff who may not necessarily realize the impact of their behaviour.  What other things can LGBT allies do? Colleagues can show solidarity in different ways, from just wearing a rainbow lanyard to attending Pride parades to recruiting other allies. I'm so proud of my colleague Liam, who is demonstrating the significant impact allies can have! He organized several 'Diversity and Inclusion Roadshows.' He led Atkins to Manchester Pride in 2019, which puts out such a strong message that makes LGBT+ staff feel included. His example will hopefully encourage all colleagues to get involved. I hope we can organize more events and marches once the COVID-19 situation improves. What does EQUILIBRIUM have planned for Pride 2020? It's the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the birth of the gay rights movement! But unfortunately, right now, we can't don some glitter and head to the streets to celebrate and raise awareness of LGBT+ rights. Instead, we're taking this crucial time to facilitate those important conversations. So our upcoming newsletter piece discusses the history of Pride Month and how instrumental the BAME community were in the gay rights movement. We want to raise awareness of Atkins' BAME network while looking for opportunities to share resources and collaborate to achieve greater visibility and diversity in the workplace. I think intersectionality is key to making this happen! Discover more ways our people are championing equality, diversity and inclusion at Atkins.

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How Vicky is supporting STEM homeschooling during COVID-19

01 May 2020 Meet Vicky, National STEM Lead at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. Although the Atkins STEM Community works on activities throughout the year, this is usually the start of their busiest event season.  By now, our STEM Ambassadors are teaching children about STEM careers on our "Young Engineers and Scientists Programme." They're dreaming up fun activities for "Bring Your Child To Work Day" and the Big Bang Fair – not to mention, gearing up to welcome our summer work experience students! Even with COVID-19 putting everything on hold, Vicky is staying positive. Nothing can stop her team of STEM Volunteers from coming up with fun, new ways for young people to discover the world of science, technology, engineering and maths. She talks to us about what she’s been doing in lock down: Vicky, how are you meeting the challenge to inspire the next generation while schools are closed, and events are cancelled? Most children are being home-schooled now. So, we’d like to support all parents, not just Atkins parents, with high-quality online resources and activities. These include our "Engine Ears School Pack," "I Will Cards," and the new "Journey to Mars Activity." How do engineers make a difference during a global pandemic? Engineers are really important at a time like this. They were essential in setting up the Nightingale Hospitals, making sure they had all the space, power and facilities to serve the country. It's also engineers that have designed the ventilators helping the most poorly people to breathe. With so many of us working from home, we've changed the way we use power, water and Wi-Fi. Engineers have been responsible for making sure that all of these vital services are ready for this sudden shift in use. And when it comes to supporting essential workers and journeys, the work of transportation engineers has made it possible for roads and railways to continue to work safely. Tell us about the resources that you and your STEM Team have come up with to support;homeschooling with STEM education. Our series of STEM activities is something the team and I are very proud of. And quite early into lock-down, it was really comforting to see how easy it was to collaborate with colleagues from all over the UK to come up with something amazing. Introducing "Journey To Mars" The idea came from our HR Director, Jilly, who inspired her daughter to design the perfect lock-down pad. We loved that it was an activity anyone could do from home. And also that it resonated with the shared experience of children all over the world. To make the idea more exciting, the "pad" became a "pod" and part of a bigger story – a space mission to Mars! What went into creating these resources? It was fantastic to work remotely with our STEM Ambassadors and parents. After our first meeting, we tested some of our ideas on the rest of the team. We approached Atkins' ParentNet and wider STEM communities to see what they thought. Many of us made our own pods, testing the instructions to see what was possible. When we were happy that it could work, we got our Communication and Creative Design teams to bring it to life. I'm proud to say that Atkins' 'Journey To Mars' is now sitting with the Canterbury STEM HUB's space resources for homeschooling. Do the resources work with a curriculum in mind? Now that children are home-schooled, they're less likely to be with kids in the same school year, and so these activities can be carried out by the whole family. We've made the instructions deliberately vague so that they can be used by any age group. And all activities are easily adaptable for children with SEN.  MISSION 01 is fun AND incorporates learning Our first activity is to design your own Space Pod. It gets children thinking about the essential things they'd need every day. How would you personalise your pod? Where would you eat? What would help you get your schoolwork done? These are the kinds of things that engineers are responsible for. As they build their space capsule, they'll be writing, drawing, making and measuring. There’s plenty more learning to come as we release follow-up "Missions" based on additional STEM topics. So… Watch this space!This May, we're really excited to be supporting TeenTech with their virtual resources, "City of Tomorrow" and "Innovation sessions." TeenTech - City of Tomorrow  Students aged 8-13 can dream up and create a smart city to improve how we'll live, work and play in the future. Working to the brief of "Smarter, Kinder, Safer," the challenge is to design and construct architectural models of buildings using recyclable materials. No ideas are too big, and it's an exciting way for families to discover pathways into construction, engineering and technology. It will also help students explore the essential core skills that these careers require. Get involved, and you'll be able to 'e-meet' our STEM volunteers. They'll be talking about what they do at Atkins and giving feedback on the students' amazing designs. Do you have any words of encouragement for young people right now? What we’re going through is very strange and unsettling, but won't last forever. See the positives in the downtime. Hopefully, there won't be another time like this, so make the most of it. Turn off the TV and your phones, spend time with your families, appreciate nature, and use this time to keep learning and discovering something new! Find out more about life at Atkins.

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