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#INWED20 – Meet Sophie - from the armed forces to digital transformation

Posted by 4MAT Administrator
Posting date:6/22/2020 2:32 PM
Welcome to our latest International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED20) blog. It's part of a series featuring some of our most talented employees – who also happen to be women. Meet Sophie, who started out in Economic Development for Local Government and then spent over 12 years in the Royal Navy. She joined Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, in 2018, starting her new career as a Management Consultant with ADS&T. She's spent the last two years supporting client delivery through a Digital Transformation Project, here's her story. 

Was there a definitive moment in your life that steered you towards a career in the industry? 

In 2016 when I was assessing my options for a second career outside of the Armed Forces, I knew that one of my personal values is service. I wanted to continue supporting the on-going security of our population. When the Government published its Cyber Strategy, it made me sure that I wanted to work in an industry that contributed to this through cybersecurity projects.  

What's the most rewarding thing about what you do?

I currently lead a team. I love watching people develop in their roles and even seeing them move onto the next challenge within the business. I'm very keen on personal development and will always do my best to support my colleagues' progression

How has your experience been as a woman in the industry? Is it what you expected, for better or for worse?

I joined Atkins in Jun 2018. So far, I've been working on a digital transformation initiative where I have been lucky enough to have two different roles. I've had a fantastic experience in this new career. I've been welcomed, my client and I have always felt equal, and I've been encouraged by everyone. My colleagues across the business have been happy to talk to me about their past roles, showing me career possibilities within the division.

What advice would you give to younger women in the organization?

Talk to people, talk to your colleagues, talk to your client and learn from their experience. I have always enjoyed speaking to people. It's amazing how a conversation with someone can spark an interest in what could be your next role. I've picked up an astounding amount of knowledge and understanding of what can seem like a pretty daunting sector. Reflecting on my second year at Atkins, I realize how much confidence I've gained as a consultant, just from engaging with so many different people.

Why are diversity and inclusion awareness and action essential to our industry?

I think that it's important in all industries as ultimately, diversity creates better results. Google will return countless business research that shows how a diverse team is more likely to succeed. It's down to the difference of ideas coming from different types of people. There is a stigma around our industry being male-dominated industries, so talking about workforce diversity might make the difference to someone starting out and considering the sector.

In what ways do you champion diversity and inclusion in your role?

I'm one of three co-leads for our local Women's Professional Network. Through this, I have been fortunate to engage with some of our other Equality Diversity & Inclusion networks. Together we support our diverse range of people with events where we discuss issues and share information across our internal and external communication channels.

What's one action that people can take to help make a career in STEM a more attractive choice for women?

Talk about the range of roles within the industry. I've discovered that working on an engineering or technology projects involves so many different experts – from engineers to landscape architects, designers to cybersecurity professionals, project managers to site safety. We also work with people who advise in business change solutions, business analysis, and the list goes on. 

It's important to know that there's no one size fits all career plan at Atkins. I'm part of an engineering consultancy, but I started as a PMO specialist. I'm now becoming a more rounded management consultant who could end up working on all kinds of different projects. Just because you start in one area doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities to try different roles. I've known of engineers becoming programme managers, and cybersecurity professionals progressing to run entire sections of our organization.

Like what you're reading? Find out more about our vision for women.

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