AECOM Executive Kim Timm discusses her engineering career, leadership style and passion for inspiring those new to the industry


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AECOM executive Kim Timm is passionate about mentoring

AECOM executive Kim Timm is passionate about mentoring

Women, do you want to know what it's like working with leading multi-disciplinary company, AECOM?

In a special interview, AECOM executive, Kim Timm, discusses her career and passion for inspiring those who are starting out on their career in engineering. Her role is Executive: Structures, Buildings and Places.

Award-winning work on innovative projects

"I joined AECOM as a bursary student 20 years ago. Since then I have worked in many different AECOM offices; I am currently based in the AECOM Centurion office in South Africa. I like to think this has given me an advantage in being able to see different approaches and ways of thinking." 

"I’ve worked on a wide range of fascinating projects, from nunneries and churches to conveyors and power stations. The diversity of these projects is one of the aspects that keeps me inspired and loving my work. The highlight of these is one of my most recent projects, Growthpoint’s New Lakeside Offices in Centurion. This was one of the rare occasions where truly challenging ground conditions forced the entire project team to work together to develop solutions and make it a success. Not only was it technically fascinating, but you could see the commitment of the client, contractor and all the consultants by the fact that it was finished on time and under budget. It was recognised recently as the winner of the above R250million category in the 2019 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards."

AECOM Kim Timm leader
Image courtesy of AECOM  

A passion for mentoring

"My passion sits in the technical side of engineering. I enjoy managing projects and ensuring they run smoothly, but my favourite part of the work is solving problems. I feel that by mentoring those that are just starting their career, it enables them to look at things in different ways, hopefully more holistically. I help them to understand that technical solutions cannot be considered in isolation from practical considerations," Kim adds.

"I have been lucky enough to have had some wonderful opportunities since joining AECOM. I recently attended an international conference in Nantes, France, where I co-authored two papers; I was nominated as Young Engineer of the Year at the CESA Awards in 2010; I’ve also worked on several projects that have received awards and commendations. Above all, the highlight for me has been recently being recognised as Mentor of the Year at the 2019 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards. I love mentoring and inspiring the younger generation, and it is humbling to receive an award which honours that."

A leader who promotes innovative thinking

Talking about her leadership style, Kim says she likes to encourage engagement and communication. "I don’t want someone to be afraid of making their opinion heard. I reward and promote innovative thinking, and like to think that I support the team when things do not go smoothly. I feel that individuals are best managed on an individual basis. What works for one person doesn’t work for the next, so I try to incorporate that diversity into my approach," she explains.

AECOM Kim Timm
Image courtesy of AECOM  

Flying the flag for women engineers

When asked about life as a female engineer, Kim explains that, when she started work, she was frequently the only woman engineer that the contractors had ever met. This situation caused several early misunderstandings but she has found that, over time, as she has become more experienced, and more women joined the profession, it has become easier.

Recommending engineering and joining AECOM

"Engineering is an incredibly rewarding profession. It allows you to combine science and theory into practical real-world applications that better the world around you," Kim adds.

Kim also recommends AECOM as a great place to work. "AECOM is a very large international company. This gives us great exposure and opportunities to work on some of the largest and most complicated projects in the world. When you are looking for an expert in any field of engineering, you can draw from this enormous pool of people, and they are only an email or chat away," she explains. "AECOM South Africa has an extensive corporate social investment system, and there are always outreach projects and programmes running from all the offices. In addition, we have global competitions whereby we suggest community projects and, if these prove to be suitable, we can win company sponsorship to make them a reality."

Kim Timm engineer AECOM

Image courtesy of AECOM 

Looking to the future

Asked where she wants her career to be in 10 years’ time, Kim says "I’ve spent 16 years as a practicing consulting engineer. I’m still learning every day in my work. I would like to continue within the industry for the next five years or so, and then look at studying for my doctorate, and potentially going into lecturing."

To read the full interview with Kim on SAprofessionals.com, click here.

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