Diversity puts the dream into Hong Kong’s Highways & Transport team
Posting date:12/3/2020 11:51 AM
Wendy Tse is Associate Technical Director for Highways and Transport at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. She grew up in Canada and started her career in New York City. After relocating to our Hong Kong office 10 years ago, she went on to play an important role on several Hong Kong International Airport projects. #InsideAtkins caught up with Wendy to hear her story and find out how her team embraces Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Congratulations on your 10th anniversary with Atkins! How did you come to work at the Hong Kong office?
Thank you! After living and working in North America for a few decades, it was time for a change. While on vacation in Asia, I'd arranged an interview at Atkins in Hong Kong. It was Christmas Eve 2010, after the office holiday party, that I met Dickson Law, now our Department Head, and Douglas Simmons.
I was welcomed during the interview. They made me feel I could overcome any culture shock and settle into Hong Kong as part of the Atkins family. In retrospect, there isn't much difference between working in New York City and Hong Kong. Both are multi-cultural, fast-paced metropolitan cities, bustling with life.
How did you get to where you are today?
I've always put extra effort into proving myself because both women and men have stereotypes against women. Men and women should have a part to play in ensuring gender equality in the work environment. Equality itself means different things to different people. Women and men should both embrace and respect our different understanding of equality and values.
But at Atkins, I'm privileged to have supportive seniors on the team. They've provided me with the guidance I've needed to grow the team from four to over 20 members. I've gone through myriad challenges over the years. I've put in overtime to learn and catch up with projects' progress. I became a working mother, balancing work and two children. And during that time, I progressed from a senior engineer to an associate technical director in the growing Atkin's family. I've been part of rapid growth at the Hong Kong Office!
Tell us about your biggest career highlight so far...
I primarily work on Airport projects. And the Hong Kong Airport Island has just been getting bigger and bigger since I first set foot on it. Developments have included the Western Apron to the Midfield and the Third Runway System (3RS).
I've really enjoyed working on 3RS. It's more than just a new runway. The expansion work is equivalent to a new airport, while the design has considered the existing airport operation. The provisional expansion meets the growing demand ensuring Hong Kong remains competitive with the rest of the world.
I'm responsible for overseeing some parts of the airfield design and overall utility arrangements. During the design development, I gained my HKIBIM qualification, which means I can implement BIM across the projects. The transformation from the 2D environment to the BIM design process has become more dynamic and interactive. Each design discipline can provide an integrated optimum solution by having live information handy.
What makes your team so unique?
Our airport team has a good number of female engineers on the core design team. We create a harmonious working environment by supporting and teaching each other. Our diversity of views and ideas has resulted in a more efficient and productive team fit for demanding airport projects.
As well as a higher percentage of women on our team, the core team is also made up of members from different cultural backgrounds. We come from the UK, Malaysia, Mainland China, Ireland, the US and Canada! The team pools our knowledge, eliminating unconscious bias; we respect each other's strengths and interests, maximize productivity and, of course, strive to outperform our competitors.
How do you stay equipped for change?
Transcendence is a new trend in engineering consultancy. It means rising above oneself into unknown and new places. We're at the point where clients demand the very best. So, we strive to be charismatic and resilient, focussing on customer experience. We never forget that clients are also searching for more innovative solutions to problems. Being transcendent encourages and inspires us to build great infrastructure and motivates purpose in engineering designers.
What do you love most about Atkins?
Atkins embraces everyone's different values. A diverse work environment when different opinions are heard is usually the best work environment. I also appreciate that I can work flexible hours at Atkins. It has meant I can be at school when needed and that I was given extended maternity leave when I couldn't find the right helper.
Do you have any encouragement for young women engineers?
Don't be afraid to speak up, to ask others. Sometimes women miss out because we're afraid to ask for help or ask for advice. And you will be surprised often how many people are willing to help. Diversity of opinions leads to a more holistic approach and, therefore, higher achievement. That's what I cherish the most here in Atkins. If you don't believe in the glass ceiling, it does not exist. Our CEO, Catherine Li, is a role model for many women professionals, encouraging us to keep pushing our boundaries further.
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