Atkins women: Empowered to be who they are and excel in the work they love
Jenny Evans | Graduate Proposal Manager in Transportation
The barriers women face in a male dominated work space are top of our agenda at Atkins. But just talking about them isn’t enough. We’re constantly working on our attitudes from the top down and supporting women’s career advancement at all stages. #insideAtkins caught up with graduate Jenny Evans, whose crucial management role means she’s had to overcome that female stereotype of not speaking up or being assertive.
A brilliant start on our Graduate Development Programme
I did a Business Management degree at university and after a year’s industry placement I applied for the graduate programme at Atkins. I loved the sound of the role I was offered and decided to give it a go. 14 months later all I can say is: “What a great decision!”
An important business management role
I manage the development of content and production on bids for major clients such as Network Rail and Highways England. My responsibilities include making sure our clients’ ‘essay’ questions are answered, collating CVs and formatting documents. I also have to ensure that we meet our clients’ marking schemes to give us the best chance of winning the new business.
Asserting myself to lead key teams
My role involves managing bid teams made up of experienced, senior members of staff. As a graduate, asserting authority in this situation can be intimidating. However, thanks to on-the-job and business training on the graduate programme, I’ve developed communication skills which allow me to be empathetic and assertive at the same time.
At Atkins women get the ‘glory projects’ too!
My team is lucky that we generally only work on ‘must-win’ bids – these are the highest value or the most strategically important. If we can help to win a bid it directly brings in revenue and most importantly ensures that offices have guaranteed work for years to come.
What’s a non-tech head to do in engineering?
Speak up and ask plenty of questions! As someone with no background in engineering I’ve had to pick up basic technical understanding very quickly. In the rail industry for example there are hundreds of acronyms, and just learning these has helped me broaden my knowledge. I’ve also learnt that at the Atkins business there’s no such thing as a stupid question – asking shows that you’re being proactive about developing your skills. And people here are always happy to help.
I love the responsibility I’m given
We work on huge bids and being thrown into high level meetings has taught me so much very quickly. The bid I am currently working on is worth £200m over the next 5 years. I feel honoured to be trusted to work on something which is of such huge value to the company. Over the last six months it has challenged me because, obviously with such a large value, the requirements to complete the bid are not easy! There is so much input needed from staff all around the company and coordinating this is tough. When I began working on it I used to get hung up on the fact that I was a graduate and therefore couldn’t assert myself to more senior members of staff. How-ever, this project has given me confidence: I am good at my job and should believe in myself more.
The flexible working culture keeps me balanced
I travel a lot for work and so being able to occasionally work from home on a Friday after a big week is great. Although I don’t have children or a family to balance, my line manager is super supportive. He encourages me to not let the fact that I live on my own allow other people to think they can place higher demands on me. I’m a very serious runner and thanks to our flexible approach, I sometimes start work later or earlier so that I can train in the daylight. There’s no question that I will not take care of my responsibilities. I believe that being given this trust encourages people to be more motivated and work harder. It’s definitely the case for me.