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Meet Associate Director for WSPs Asset Design Team, Nicola Earley

Meet Associate Director for WSP's Asset Design Team, Nicola Earley

 October 05, 2021

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Working in a career that focuses on forging a sustainable future can be hugely rewarding. So at WSP, helping communities thrive being at the very heart of their approach provides a pretty compelling purpose. Working for WSP means focusing on economic, environmental and social benefits that have a positive impact on current and future generations.

Future Ready is WSP’s innovative approach to thinking beyond the conventional so they can plan, design and deliver infrastructure that’s ready for today’s code and tomorrow’s challenges. Being future focused, understanding what the world might look like in the next few decades, and taking action to prepare for this future, is essential to what they do at WSP. Their clients count on it and their communities thrive because of it. And this is a fabulous area to be working in within WSP.

With this in mind, Where Women Work caught up with one of WSP's Associate Directors who works in the Asset Design Team in WSP's Water Business - Nicola Earley. Her work is particularly interesting and it is fascinating and absorbing because she gets to enjoy the professional and personal rewards that come from solving truly complex issues.

At WSP, they're a collaborative team of experts that thrive on a challenge and unconventional thinking. Channeling their curiosity into creating progressive solutions to complex issues is both WSP's mission and its passion - and you can join them in doing purposeful, sustainable work that helps shape communities and the future. 

So let's hear from Nicola and be inspired by her work, and consider if WSP may be the place for our own next sustainability-focused career chapter.

Forging an open and collaborative culture

WSP Associate Director, Nicola Earley, leads on the delivery of Future Ready water projects and supporting her colleagues to deliver outstanding projects is a high priority. Nicola also leads the business’ People Forum which works to foster an open and collaborative culture, to create a resilient team, where people can thrive.

Being an Associate Director in WSP's Asset Design Team

"I was previously a Project Manager and prior to this I spent several years working as an Engineer. My background is in flooding and flood risk management, delivering schemes for private and public sector clients including road infrastructure projects and flood defences. Now, as Associate Director for the Asset Design Team, I lead the delivery of projects across all our services, driving Future Ready solutions for our clients," explains Nicola who works closely with WSP's clients developing an understanding of their specific needs and enabling her to transition this understanding into providing a team that can deliver design services to meet their requirements. 

"I am also the Deputy Director of the asset design team and I support the director of the team in the day to day running of the business. I ensure that the team operates in a safe environment with a focus on health and wellbeing, respond to training needs, monitor workload and resourcing and manage financial performance of our projects."

Water asset design contributes to a sustainable future

WSP understands that population growth, climate change, industrial development and ageing water assets have put pressure on conventional water and wastewater technologies and infrastructure. So they take a holistic and sustainable approach to managing and minimising the use of natural resources through assessing and mitigating risks, meeting regulatory requirements, reducing the cost of resource use and disposal, and creating strategies for a sustainable future.

Nicola advises that WSP's asset design team provides design services across all water sectors. The team provides technical design input on water and wastewater infrastructure and non-infrastructure schemes for a range of clients from both the public and private sector.

"The Asset Design Team in WSP's Water Business provides a range of services from strategies and feasibility to outlining and detailing scheme designs," explains Nicola. "The projects vary from the design of pipelines to projects that support the improvement of water environment by improving the water quality of flows discharging from wastewater treatment works. In addition, we have a team dedicated to multi-utilities advisory, strategy and design for the development, local government and infrastructure sectors. We provide support to landowners who are facing utilities challenges. We develop utilities strategies for new developments. We support clients such as HS2 (a high-speed railway network in the United Kingdom), liaising with utilities companies, and we cover all stages of utility connection and diversion design," comments Nicola.

Being surrounded by inspiring, positive, supportive individuals

An aspect Nicola enjoys most about her role in WSP is the people she works with. "I am surrounded by inspiring, positive and supportive individuals that, as a collective, make a really great team of people. I’ve also been lucky enough to work on such a wide range of projects whilst in WSP. My background was originally in hydrology and flood risk and now I am leading projects in asset design. The opportunities afforded to me in WSP have allowed me to realise skills that I otherwise may not have been able to develop and the support I have had in doing this has grown my confidence," attests Nicola.

The excitement of being a civil engineer focusing on water-related projects

WSP WATER jobs & women careers - womenreturners

Nicola's career was initially steered by her parents who both nudged her towards a degree in Civil Engineering. The degree fit her skills and interest in maths and the sciences. "Luckily my parents guidance seems to have been accurate," says Nicola. "Civil Engineering is such a broad subject but I was always drawn to the environmental aspects of my studies with a particular interest in the water subjects. I’m fascinated by the fact that the work we do day-to-day has such notable and direct impact on our communities - whether that be leading the delivery of technical design of water assets or managing projects that improve the quality of the water environment," says Nicola.

The importance of resilience in the workplace

"I'm certainly noticing the importance of resilience as things are often not plain sailing and we are always faced with challenges, which can range from a varying workload to particularly challenging deadlines," comments Nicola.

"I think that the last 18 months throughout the pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges we have all faced and resilience was more important than ever. Being able to respond to the ups and downs, and to changes, is really important to ensure that we continue to function as a team. I think ensuring a strong support system where individuals can seek help when it is needed is especially important to help teams deal with the challenges they may face," reflects Nicola.

Leading WSPs People Forum Team in the Water Team

WSP's People Forum was set up as an initiative to support the wellbeing and engagement of the water team, as well as to help build resilience.

"Members of the team come from across the water business with different backgrounds and experiences," explains Nicola. "We are working on implementing initiatives that make a positive impact on the team to foster a really open and approachable culture."

WSP's People Forum is focussed on implementing positive change in the team with a goal of ensuring that we offer a safe and supportive environment for everyone to work in. "I believe the team benefits greatly from having a group representing their needs and themes that are important to them. We seek feedback from colleagues to understand what steps we can take to support them. It is hoped that if the team feel supported and their needs represented, then this encourages a positive atmosphere which in turn increases our high performance."

Enjoying some well-deserved downtime

WSP WATER jobs & women careers - womenreturners

Nicola resides in Glasgow in Scotland where she enjoys her passion interacting with nature.

Enthralled with her career, equally Nicola enjoys the great outdoors - and of course admires the wonder of water as an amazing and critical natural resource.

WSP WATER jobs & women careers - womenreturners

Ready for a thriving career in WSP's water teams?

Managing water resources efficiently is critical for towns, cities and communities all over the world - and you can be part of this important and rewarding work at WSP.

You can be a future-focused expert who proposes innovative ideas for WSP's clients - being at the cutting edge, building and honing your skills and knowledge.

This is fascinating, absorbing work where you’ll enjoy the professional and personal rewards that come from solving truly complex issues.

Research their job vacancies or reach out to WSP to learn more about the benefits of a rewarding career where you can be a changemaker.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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