Empowering Women in Tech
Posting date:3/4/2020 1:00 PM
04 March 2020
Meet Zahraa, Senior Analyst/Programmer in the Digital Asset Management practice at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. She’s been with us for seven years, which has seen her progress from technician to leading on major infrastructure projects. We caught up with her to get her perspective on being supported at life and work in Atkins.
As a role model at the business, what is your message to women wanting to progress to their mid-careers?
Speak at conferences, hold internal presentations, speak at external events and present the projects you’ve been working on. Show others what you're capable of and inspire others to work with you or follow your path. I get an adrenaline rush before a presentation, whether it’s to the client, at a conference or internally. It’s these situations that help build my confidence and to show others what I have done.
Network as much as you can. Raising your profile is so important. And don’t be afraid to ask for your promotion. I would recommend applying for the Women’s Development Programme, which Atkins supports – the training will help you in so many aspects of your career.
What do you love about working at Atkins?
Diversity across colleagues and projects is what makes Atkins exciting, and is the reason I'm still here! In my practice, there’s almost a different flag on every desk – and I love it! Coming from an ethnic minority, it means a lot to me that Atkins encourages diversity. This really comes through in all the different ideas from colleagues with different backgrounds. Being able to work collaboratively with people from different disciplines keeps the projects diverse and interesting.
There's always an opportunity to work in another part of the business and Atkins encourages it. And that’s exactly what I did. Moving across to Transportation got me featured on the BBC, representing Atkins and Highways England. And now, I’m part of the Asset Management Technical Committee for PIARC World Roads Association, which is an international committee.
Atkins had proved me with opportunities and support through my career decisions. I have grown significantly in my professional career since I joined after graduating.
What keeps you challenged at Atkins?
Becoming more digital and providing innovative solutions for clients is what keeps me motivated at Atkins. There are so many projects which are moving to digital, and it boils down to the way we think of those digital solutions. How will they benefit the client? Is it relevant to the rapidly evolving technology available now and in 20 years?
Data is at the heart of everything we do, and the way we approach and explore it inspires me to keep searching for innovative ways to analyse it. Analytics is a growing and exciting space to be in right now, and I’m looking forward to developing further in this field.
How do you feel valued as a human being at Atkins?
Since I started working at Atkins, my father has been ill & Atkins helped me take time off when things became serious with him. I could not have been more thankful to my managers and colleagues in both Infrastructure and Transportation, at the time, who carried me through it. This makes me believe that Atkins genuinely cares about me.
How does Atkins support your personal priorities?
One of my personal priorities is to become a Chartered Mathematician. Atkins has supported me in this with relevant opportunities, such as co-presenting at a conference, speaking at a regional event and taking the lead on specific projects.
Sometimes, my home situation with my father’s illness has an effect on my mental health and wellbeing. And it can build up with work, but my colleagues always offer support and reach out to me when they see I’m struggling.
How do you feel after seven years at Atkins?
At this point in my career, I've gained membership in the IMA and am working towards my chartership. I’m also on the NxtGen committee for the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) and on the Asset Managament Technical Committee for PIARC.
I hope to inspire young women and graduates to follow their dreams and ambitions because, with hard work, they can achieve it. I don’t regret any part of my career as I have learnt tremendously from my colleagues, mentors and managers, and it has made me into a more confident and ambitious professional.
How would you like to work in a place where we thrive working together and supporting each other. We’re hiring – apply now.