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A day in the life of the talented women at AECOM

A day in the life of the talented women at AECOM

 August 28, 2018

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Women in engineering, environmental and technical roles at AECOM drive complex projects through to completion and have a huge impact on the company’s culture around the world.

Where Women Work takes a peek into what life is like for a talented and ambitious woman at AECOM, and how women are building sustainable futures and leading ground-breaking projects across AECOM markets of the UK and Ireland, India, Continental Europe, Middle East, and Africa.  

AECOM supported Aisling to build an exciting career  

Aisling Marlow’s UK&I AECOM journey started as a placement student during her Master of Engineering studies at Queen’s University, Belfast. Today, she’s a civil engineer, working in the flood risk management and drainage sector. Her role gives her the opportunity to be a mathematician, physicist, project manager, accountant, public speaker and lawyer all rolled into one.

What really inspires Aisling is the technical and technological challenges in her role. “I think the rate at which technology is developing is making things more and more exciting as we now have the tools to develop more complex solutions that may not have been thought of a few years ago. Technology gives us the confidence to push forward with less traditional solutions,” she comments.

AECOM offered a choice of career pathways

Aisling chose scientific and technical subjects for her A-levels and went on to achieve her Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She was selected for a scholarship, jointly funded by AECOM and the Institution of Civil Engineers, which also provided access to AECOM’s summer work placement schemes. After graduating, AECOM offered her a choice of career pathways, and she chose to work within the water sector to pursue her interest in flood water projects.

“I always had an interest in flooding at university,” explains Aisling. “And, I had already tried some renewable energy work and water main design, so I felt this was a great new challenge. Four years later, I’m still here!”    

Every day is different in civil engineering

As a civil engineer at AECOM, every day is different. And, being a part of a global, multi-disciplined, highly skilled team serves AECOM’s goal to provide a holistic, specialist service to clients.

“I love the variety of my role and the challenges it presents,” says Aisling. “I’ve always felt supported in my role and have never lost out on an opportunity by being a female in this industry. My opinion and my contribution are just as valued as everyone else in the team.”

Corporate social responsibility is key to AECOM’s culture

Throughout her career with AECOM, Aisling has been continuously impressed with AECOM’s attitude towards corporate social responsibility. From fundraising to volunteering opportunities to including local schools in STEM activities, the centralised Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team provides huge support and encouragement across the global enterprise.

“I’m part of the Edinburgh CSR team, together with 16 staff,” explains Aisling. “We’re all really dedicated to giving back to the local community and making the office a great place to work.”

The Edinburgh CSR team raised nearly £1,500 for a local charity to provide adventure play experiences for disabled children and young people. The team is also involved in social events with a craft beer company whose profits go towards clean water projects.

Garima’s confidence soared working for AECOM

Garima Bhardwaj is a Senior Engineer with AECOM India. She also manages the role of Risk Committee Administrator for the EMIA India HUB, and Quality Assurance Lead for her department. She explains how her confidence has grown immeasurably during her seven-plus years with the business, and how the work she does fits perfectly with AECOM’s ‘big picture’ ethos of a global team working towards a common goal.

Overcoming market challenges

Meeting the complex challenges in an ever-evolving industry can be demanding, so the right tools are essential for success. AECOM has equipped Garima and her team to keep abreast of market demands and set a pace that means they don’t lose opportunities to competitors.

“It’s exciting to work in this industry and be able to see across different disciplines,” comments Garima. “Things like quality, risk management, and finance are all interlinked. For a project to function in the best way, you need to have extensive knowledge. No project can deliver the best result unless looked at in totality. The industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and businesses who give the best effort combined with a multi-dimensional approach will always outstrip the competition.”

AECOM is more like a family than just a workplace, says Garima

Garima loves her job and for the last seven years she has been involved in a multitude of successful projects. “My role is a combination of various work put through a reflecting prism lens,” she explains.

“I love the challenge, the work and the people. If I were to move out of the domain and focus on only one area, that would be like losing myself and losing out on the excitement I feel each day coming to work at AECOM.”

Mentoring to shape a career

With previous experience in core engineering, Garima has developed a truly multi-functional approach to her career. Garima credits her success to the support of her family, and the help of her mentor, Pawan Gupta, Vice President for Water & Urban Development. “Pawan Gupta has shaped my career and my professional growth. I’m very thankful to him for being my mentor,” she comments.  

Garima believes that the outside world may see her as a shiny, cheerful, successful working woman, but she explains how Pawan Gupta helped her to forge a path within AECOM and supported her to adopt a logical approach to achieve her career ambitions.

“If you prove yourself and take on new challenges, you’ll be remembered by those who follow in your footsteps,” Garima reflects.

Learning is a never-ending process

There are always opportunities for learning with AECOM. “I believe that learning is a never-ending process,” says Garima. “There is always a place for improvement and I constantly strive for more.”

Apart from learning and continuous professional development, she explains how the people, culture and work are all among the most impressive things about her employer. AECOM provides the creative freedom and the tools to allow Garima, and women like her, to excel in their specialist areas and continuously strive for excellence.

“Nothing is more rewarding than an enriching experience and being able to love what you do. I feel supported and as if I truly belong at AECOM,” Garima points out.

Mariana’s work contributes to a more sustainable future

Mariana Goyarzu is an architect and energy modeler for the sustainability team in Essen, Germany. She works on projects that result in more sustainable buildings and contribute to a sustainable future. Mariana calculates the total amount of energy that a building utilizes whilst occupied and empty over a certain period. She then analyzes the data and comes up with more efficient ways for the building to run. “Nowadays a sustainable approach to building design and facilities management is essential to secure a sustainable future and will help AECOM to "Imagine it. Delivered",” says Mariana.

Mariana loves a challenge

Mariana loves a challenge and takes every opportunity she can to learn something new. For example, she has recently supported the architectural Building Information Modelling (BIM) team in Poland on an international project. “The cross-collaboration between AECOM teams from various countries and disciplines is class-leading,” she comments. “It has not only improved my BIM skill but also broadened my horizons and shown me how different cultures approach problem-solving in the industry.” She also loves to connect with colleagues in other countries, a talent that has led Mariana to find her technical mentor in the US.

Mariana was drawn to AECOM at a career fair in Germany

After completing a Bachelor’s degree in architecture in Mexico, Mariana received a scholarship to study a Masters in Sustainability in the UK. She then completed her dissertation and went on a four-month backpacking trip through Europe.

“It was in Aachen, Germany, where I joined a friend who was attending a job fair and it was there where I was drawn to the AECOM stand. After talking to an HR recruiter, I felt my skills were needed in the industry and I easily connected with the AECOM culture of caring. I still, however, would need to learn to speak German in order to work with this team and after a long chat, I was assured an interview, if I could master the German language.” So, she did and has never looked back.

Diversity is key at AECOM

One of the things that Mariana finds impressive about AECOM is its culture and diversity. “Working with people from all over the globe and on international projects, gives you a whole different perspective and makes it impossible to not learn new things. For example, learning about South Africa without having been there. An interesting fact - the last male white rhino had its own private bodyguards.”

As part of the AECOM Graduate Development Program, Mariana and her team are working on a pilot project regarding flexible working culture for two offices in Germany. The team members are based in Russia, Germany, France, Spain, and Turkey and they are collaborating with experts in the UK. “It’s very exciting to contribute to the “Freedom to Grow” initiative and a great opportunity to learn about change management,” she says.  

Yasmine consults with world-renowned experts to bring AECOM’s projects to life

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship,” is Yasmine’s favourite quote, and one that she feels illustrates her life as project manager for AECOM, in Dubai.

Yasmine Bel Tamar is AECOM’s Associate Director for Project and Construction Management for the Dubai ICD Brookfield Project. Yasmine is a fully-qualified Civil Engineer with an MBA, and she currently supports one of the company's most complex projects; building a new landmark for Dubai, a place well known for its distinctive buildings.

AECOM construction management

Yasmine converts dreams into physical realities

“As a project manager, I deal with 13 different consultants, the main contractor as well as all the subcontractors. Given our very small team, ensuring the proper management and alignment of all stakeholders to achieve quality and schedule is a great challenge”, explains Yasmine. “The execution and delivery of projects and getting to contribute directly to the country’s changing landscape is very exciting to me. I am proud to be part of a team which has delivered landmark projects in the UAE.”

For people outside of the industry, Yasmine explains that it’s her job to “convert ideas and dreams into a physical reality. This fits in AECOM’s vision “Imagine it. Delivered”.”

Yasmine feels supported and empowered at AECOM

Yasmine appreciates the sense of equality and diversity throughout the organization. She says, “Being a female in a construction environment can be quite challenging, however, I feel very supported and empowered at AECOM. These conditions allow me to focus on what is important and makes me more confident in my role.”

During the past few years, she has met female senior managers at every level of the organization (including the Chief Executive for EMEA, Lara Poloni). This clearly demonstrates that there is no glass ceiling for women at AECOM. “Similarly, I am happy to see many professional women joining the company which will contribute to its growth,” comments Yasmine.

Final thoughts from Yasmine?

“I would like to encourage other young women joining our industry to be bold and courageous. Once you have started down this path, opportunities will open up ahead of you.”

Safety is the key priority for engineer, Elda

Safety engineer, Elda Esieva, graduated from Russian State University specialising in safety engineering. Based in Moscow, Elda joined AECOM three years ago and supports offices and projects in terms of safety. Documentation development, providing safety training to employees, encouraging employees to live and breathe safety, and highlighting safety on site, are just a few of the areas that Elda gets involved with on a day-to-day basis. Elda is incredibly passionate about safety, “Safety should be a part of our life in all areas, in all businesses,” she says.

As a safety engineer, one of her key challenges and priorities is ensuring the safe working conditions for all employees. “Our safety team pays a lot of attention to developing a safety culture and involves our employees in Health, Safety & Environment issues,” comments Elda. She explains that AECOM has adopted 9 Life-Preserving Principles, which aims to achieve the goal of zero employee injuries, property damage, and create an environmentally friendly and sustainable workplace. “I am proud to be part of this team and I am sure that our work makes safety culture better,” comments Elda.

The excitement of working for AECOM

Elda explains how AECOM has projects in construction, design, transport infrastructure, to name but a few, “and it is exciting to see the results of our work”.  Each project has its own peculiarities and unique decisions including safety issues. “I am proud to be a part of this as it is a chance for everyday learning”, she comments. Elda’s work is also very creative as she works to find different ways to get employees involved with safety and to convey safety requirements be they in the office or for a specific project.

Opportunities for career development

Elda’s education is related to the specialty that she now works in, and during her three years with AECOM she has had exciting and rewarding career development opportunities. “Each year I have had the opportunity to grow in my specialty,” she says.

The best part of her role, however, is working with smart, cultured and inspirational people at AECOM.

“I feel supported every day from management and colleagues,” says Elda. “Everyone is ready to listen and support my decisions in safety issues. At AECOM, every woman has a great opportunity for development and career growth.”

AECOM also provides opportunities to be part of a life outside of work. Elda explains that “we have our running team, we participate in charity events, environmental activities and more. This is all organized by AECOM employees and everyone can become part of these events.”

AECOM construction women

Kim-Lu represents AECOM with world-class clients

Resident engineer Kim-Lu Steenkamp is a civil engineer site representative at the Kusile Power Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa. “The power plant is the first of its kind in South Africa to install the state-of-the-art wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) technology,” explains Kim-Lu.

Kim-Lu believes that her role within AECOM is a “phenomenal opportunity” where she has been fortunate enough to work with Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Africa on the Boiler Island scope of works. She has recently been moved to the steam turbine section, being built by General Electric. “This is extremely exciting,” says Kim-Lu, “because I have been working on this project since the construction of the foundations of the second and third units. I experienced the “first fire” of both the first and second units. The amount of experience that I have gained is immeasurable. I am fortunate to be part of such a wonderful project that is helping to move my country’s economy forward. I am flattered that AECOM has entrusted me as an engineer to represent our company to world-class clients and to share my knowledge and experience.”

She firmly believes that “there is so much change that can be brought about through engineering. We can literally improve the society we reside in. Civil engineering is an industry of hope and positivity. Furthermore, the growth of a female engineer is not limited as the possibilities are endless.”

Kim-Lu’s mentors have contributed to her success

Kim-Lu has been blessed with some fantastic mentors during her career with AECOM. “They have greatly contributed to my current success because they believed in me,” says Kim-Lu. “They supported me by extending an ear to listen to my challenges. Sometimes they threw me in the deep-end which gave me great exposure to some wonderful opportunities. They saw the greatness in me when I didn’t.”

AECOM’s diversity is key to success

Kim-Lu thrives on AECOM’s diverse and inclusive culture and believes this to be a cornerstone of the company’s success. “I have worked with so many different individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, personalities, etc. This assisted me to respect and accept people and to also seek for the positive always in any human being. We are all different and because of that, we have so much to contribute towards the success of AECOM and society. There is greatness in all of us and it’s possible to live one’s dream. I come from a small town which is considered as a previously disadvantaged community and I never dreamt that I could do what I’m currently doing.”

AECOM women

Career advice from an inspiring female engineer

“When someone tells you that you cannot do something - that simply means they cannot do it. You can do anything you put your mind, heart, and soul into,” says Kim-Lu.

Kim-Lu concludes by sharing her favourite quote by Anthony Robbins: “Progress equals happiness. It’s not what we get that makes us happy, it’s who we become. And because we become more, we can give more.”

Join talented women at AECOM

Join inspiring women engineers like Aisling, Garima, Mariana, Yasmine, Elda and Kim-Lu at prime employer, AECOM, and find your next career opportunity. It will undoubtedly provide a very worthwhile and purposeful career choice.


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