Home    AECOM    Insight

AECOM ground engineering jobs offer great career pathways

AECOM ground engineering jobs offer great career pathways

 November 23, 2021

 Read time

AECOM is recruiting heavily in Ground Engineering right now and there are so many brilliant career opportunities available.

AECOM and Where Women Work are shining a light on some of the people already working in the arena to provide some great insight into what they do, the positive impact they have, and why they enjoy their work so much. Enjoy this series meeting some impressive AECOM people thriving in their jobs in ground engineering.

In this article Sophie Hoggard, Senior Engineering Geologist at AECOM talks about her love of ground engineering and why ground engineering is so important. Sophie also shares her favourite project and discusses the current key priorities for the ground engineering industry. And make sure you keep reading to the end to discover Sophie’s top tip for those looking to join the Ground Engineering team at AECOM.

Be sure to read further articles in this Ground Engineering series featuring Lynn MastersonRiya Patel and James Todd.

What makes you tick?

Solving the puzzle of what lies beneath our feet, because a good understanding of ground conditions is so crucial to appropriate and cost-effective ground investigation and engineering design. I love the fact that building the ground model means reviewing such a diversity of data sources: not only geological maps and ground investigation data, but remote sensing data, field mapping, aerial photograph analysis…the list goes on! Geomorphological interpretation, especially on sites with natural hazards such as landslides, is a particular passion of mine. Assembling the information on maps and cross sections so a non-geologist can understand the key issues is a great challenge.

How would you describe your job to someone outside the industry?

AECOM Ground Engineering jobs

Without engineering geologists there would be so many uncertainties regarding ground conditions and natural hazards, that structures would have to be massively over-engineered and in many cases be impossibly expensive. Worst still, catastrophic failures might occur where hazards are overlooked, or where sites should have been avoided altogether e.g. building on an active fault, or over an underground cavity that collapses.

How did you found yourself working in Ground Engineering?

At school I loved the Sciences and Physical Geography, so I studied Environmental Geoscience (a variation on a pure Geology degree) as an undergraduate. The course had an Engineering Geology module, which I really enjoyed. I decided to do an internship in the industry after I left university, and having enjoyed this I completed a Masters Degree in Engineering Geology at Imperial College. I graduated in 2010, when there were very few jobs for graduates in the UK due to the recession. I sought help from people on LinkedIn and was advised to try Hong Kong. Ten days later I was on a plane moving out to join an engineering geological consultancy on Hong Kong Island! That turned out to be an amazing four years.

What are some key strengths you regularly call upon in your role?

Three-dimensional thinking, critical analysis, interpretation, problem solving and communication skills – both verbal communication skills and through map / cross-section production.

What is your favourite project you have worked on for AECOM?

Working as a Deputy Project Engineer on the Lower Thames Crossing project was a real challenge, but so rewarding. I was involved in all aspects of managing the ground investigation, which was far bigger than any I’d managed before and as such I learnt a huge amount. More than anything I discovered how much I enjoy working with people, especially where I could use their feedback to improve our systems, enhancing efficiency and job satisfaction.

What are the current key priorities in Ground Engineering?

A key priority for ground engineering is to reduce carbon emissions, particularly those associated with construction materials and methodologies. This makes up approximately 11% of global carbon emissions and must be significantly reduced if we are to meet net zero. It will require innovation, such as the production of lower carbon concrete. It will also require prioritisation across every aspect of ground engineering, including easy changes like banning vehicle idling on sites.

How can Ground Engineering become more inclusive and diverse?

Having diverse councils at the head of key institutions like the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Geological Society of London is progress.

How can we get more women in STEM careers, especially ground engineering?

I went to a single-gender school founded on the basis that women should have every opportunity afforded to a man. There was no sense that STEM careers were only for men and a large proportion of us followed such careers. I don’t understand the complexity of what puts young women off these jobs, but I can say that if we could remove the stereotyping and work on promoting a diverse image it might make them more appealing. I have participated in career conventions at my old school to encourage the pursuit of ground engineering. I also took part in the Building Futures scheme to promote engineering to young school children in North London.

Why do you enjoy working for the Ground Engineering team at AECOM?

The Ground Engineering team at AECOM brings together a large and diverse group of people from lots of different nationalities. With that comes a wide range of experiences and skills, increasing our capabilities to take on a range of interesting jobs. The opportunity is there for you to find a specialism and be well supported as you pursue it.

What does Freedom to Grow mean to you?

It is the acceptance that we all have different working habits that best suit us and make us more productive. I have benefited from the flexibility around work hours that allows me to balance work time and Mum time. I sometimes take a longer lunch hour and revive myself at the gym, or I might make the most of waking early by starting and finishing work earlier than usual. Working from home has made my life as a working Mum much more manageable.

What's your advice for joining AECOM's Ground Engineering team?

Spend time getting to know people. If there are after work drinks, go! In a company of this size there are so many great people to work with and the sooner people know about you and what you like to do, the faster you can find your place. I dislike using words like ‘networking’ and ‘self-promotion’. Instead, you just want to become part of the community, and I for one am happier for it.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I am looking forward to finding our next home and renovation project and fulfilling my gardening aspirations, after too many years living in a London flat. I also can’t wait to travel again. Since having a baby and then a year of COVID I’ve not been outside the UK, so my inner explorer is agitated!

When you're not working, what are some of your favourite ways to spend time?

I help run a small, contemporary A Cappella group in London called KT6, which I love. I enjoy gardening (it is only a balcony but I try), exercise, walking in the countryside, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Become part of this amazing team today

AECOM ground engineering jobs

Looking for a thriving career in Ground Engineering?

Research the roles with AECOM


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

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


Join our women's careers community