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Meet WSPs Director of Technical Excellence, Joanna Goodwin

Meet WSP's Director of Technical Excellence, Joanna Goodwin

 April 27, 2022

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Population growth, climate change, industrial development and aging water assets impact the availability of water as an essential resource, and put pressure on conventional water and wastewater technologies and infrastructure. Water is a precious global resource, so working with water can offer a very rewarding career.

WSP Director of Technical Excellence, Joanna Goodwin, has been part of WSP’s water team since 2009, helping to grow the team from eight staff when she joined up to its current size of over 300 across the UK. She is a self-acclaimed perfectionist who is passionate about quality, inclusion and staff development. 

Journey through the early years

WSP Joanna Goodwin

Joanna started her career in 2003 as a graduate civil engineer designing below ground drainage systems and external pavements, working on a wide range of projects around the world including a four-month stint in Dubai.

In 2007 she changed direction and moved into a newly created environment team, focussing more on planning and feasibility to influence the earliest stages of new infrastructure projects.

"I have been lucky enough to carve out a career path that suits my skills, passion and lifestyle. When an opportunity in the environment team opened up, I side-stepped to develop my skills in environmental impact assessments, flood risk assessments and other water environment studies," explains Joanna.

"This was the perfect move for me. I was grateful to have a foundation in engineering design, but I truly love being involved in the upfront and strategic planning studies that shape our projects and, unlike most engineers, I love writing reports!”

Joanna is a strong advocate for continued development throughout one’s career.

"Learning doesn’t stop when you start work – this is just the beginning. It is essential that we continue to learn and grow throughout our career to keep up with changes in the sector, continue to push for excellence in the projects that we deliver, and ensure that we continue to love and be inspired by what we do," she comments. 

This belief is supported by WSP, and Joanna has been fortunate to attend a wide range of both technical and non-technical training to develop her career.

"Since completing my Civil Engineering degree in 2002, I have completed a post graduate diploma in Water and Environmental Management, a post graduate certificate in the Integrated Management of Freshwater Environments, as well as the River Restoration Centre’s Level 1, 2 and 3 Hydromorphology courses," says Joanna. 

Each course has helped Joanna grow and become a better consultant, providing better advice to WSP clients and informing better designs for its projects: “The world is starting to sit up and take note of the importance of protecting our natural environment, with new legislation such as the Environment Act 2021 recognising the measures required to prevent further deterioration and turn the tide towards improvement. I am proud to be part of this movement towards a more sustainable future."

Promoting technical leadership

Joanna Goodwin WSP

WSP recognises the need to bring its technical disciplines together to form technical communities where best practice can be shared, problems can be discussed, and staff development can be promoted.

Within the water team WSP has 12 technical communities that cover the broad range of skills and services offered by the team. Joanna is WSP’s Technical Discipline Lead for Water Environment and Flood Risk Assessment.

“This is one of the largest and most diverse technical areas of the team. We provide advice from the very start of engineering projects right the way through to detailed design and construction, covering a wide range of transport, power and development projects of all shapes and sizes from Permitted Development through to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects," she explains. 

In addition to her role as Technical Discipline Lead for Water Environment and Flood Risk Assessment, Joanna has also recently stepped into the role of Director of Technical Excellence for WSP's water team. In this role, Joanna provides leadership across the full range of technical services offered by the team.

“I chair a group of technical and market sector leaders that strive to identify and develop opportunities for improved ways of working across the team. This typically comprises a mix of finding solutions to help us work more effectively and efficiently, looking for opportunities for innovation and progression, exploring new markets or technical services, and promoting collaboration and communication across our team," she says.   

This new role draws on Joanna’s ability to bring people together and encourage a shared passion for continued improvement and pride in the work that WSP delivers. 

“I am also passionate about supporting my team and ensuring that everyone feels recognised, rewarded and given the opportunities to grow. In 2015 I was nominated for Line Manager of the Year, which was a real highlight of my career, knowing that I am making a difference to the wellbeing and development of others”. 

Lifestyle changes

Joanna Goodwin WSP

In 2021, Joanna was fortunate to have her baby girl, Freya. “To say she was a surprise would be the understatement of the decade!”  

Joanna was asked if she was concerned about the impact this could have on her career, particularly her ability to maintain the level of responsibility that she had worked so hard to achieve.

“To be honest, no I wasn’t," she says. "My team have been incredibly supportive and flexible, keeping me engaged in the team throughout my year away and even promoting me to Technical Director whilst I was on maternity leave!”

Joanna reflects on how the engineering sector has proven to be one of the most flexible and supportive.

“Out of all the new mums that I met during my maternity leave, I have had the easiest journey back into work by far – which is surprising considering this group includes several teachers and nurses in traditionally female dominated professions. I am able to work the hours that suit me and a time that suits me, recognising that the usual Monday to Friday 9 to 5 approach is outdated and unnecessary in the modern world.” 

Joanna continues: “And this is not just applied to women – for many years we have given the same opportunities to men as well as women. And it is also not just for new parents – we have also supported flexible working for other reasons such as personal wellbeing, supporting family members or dedicating time to charitable ventures”. 

Outside of work, Joanna is a passionate upholsterer. “I started upholstering furniture in 2018 and was instantly hooked. Since then, I have reupholstered over 30 chairs and have a garage full of projects-in-waiting. I also write a blog that captures my upholstering adventures and am slowly convincing my husband that we should convert our garage into an upholstery workshop.”

In addition to this, Joanna has been a member of the CIWEM South Western Branch since 2012, is an accredited Professional Reviewer and mentors colleagues in WSP to support their route to chartership.

“I definitely have a ‘work hard – play hard’ attitude to life. If there’s a spare five minutes in the day, I will definitely try to fill it with something useful," concludes Joanna. 

Want to work for WSP's water team?

Inspired by Joanna's career path to work in WSP's water team?

Find out what range of jobs are available and forge a great career path with WSP. 


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