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AECOM Associate Director Nayera is breaking down barriers

AECOM Associate Director Nayera is breaking down barriers

 June 20, 2017

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Meet Nayera Aslam, Associate Director at AECOM. Here we find out more about her role, what led her to a career in engineering, and how she thinks we can help encourage more women into the field.

We can deliver successfully

"I win aviation projects for my company. I work with a range of technical experts in AECOM and partner consulting firms or contractors to bring together a team who can successfully design, build and manage aviation projects. It's my job to explain to prospective clients how we can deliver successfully for them. My background is in designing roads and transport infrastructure schemes," explains Marion.

Becoming the change

"At the tender of 16, I was struggling to identify what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had picked maths and science subjects for my higher education because I enjoyed these subjects and had a natural aptitude for them. I loved seeing tall, majestic sky scrapers, the sweeping bridges and the smaller things which made our everyday lives just a little bit easier. Whilst I had a somewhat romanticised view of civil engineering, I never truly considered it as a viable profession. I did some research into engineering which confirmed my suspicions: girls like me don’t do things like engineering. In the UK, engineering was all about Isambard Brunel and James Watt. Inspiring figures who all seemed to fit the same mould and fundamentally, did not represent me. This was the catalyst for me; if I wanted to see a change, I would have to become that change. "

Incredibly inspiring people

"I get to work with a huge range of incredibly inspiring people, from architects who design award winning towers in the Middle East to talented engineers who manage multi-billion pound projects in the US. The region I cover is from Norway to South Africa, from Ireland to India. In my role, I can be a part of something that will change a whole city and country.  "

Dedication and sacrifice are worth it

"It can be very demanding with constant travelling, occasional 7 days working and lots of work to meet very tight deadlines. The rewards of winning an airport project means I help to influence and change how the planet connects. However, the novelty of constantly travelling wears off pretty quickly and soon you miss the simple things in life, like your own bed. The dedication and sacrifice is worth it.   "  

Exciting projects at AECOM

"I've worked on the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. More recently, I have worked on one of the biggest airports in the world, Istanbul New Airport and Kuwait International Airport which has an iconic terminal design and will change the Middle East."

Proud achievements 

Many projects I've I designed as an engineer have been constructed and even won awards such as the first of its kind tactile Map in Wolverhampton. One of my proudest moments has been visitors telling me how my designs for the 2012 London Olympics Games made their lives easier. Acting as the bid manager and winning a huge project, such as the Integrated Designer of the Pier and Airside at Schiphol Airport after months of work was also a very proud moment for me. All of this experience has culminated in achieving Chartered Engineer status with the Institution of Civil Engineers which is life time personal achievement for me.  

Truly international opportunities

"AECOM is involved in every big infrastructure project on the planet. You can move anywhere in the world with AECOM and work on anything you want. AECOM supports people who want to grow and achieve; working for AECOM means you can help shape the world. At AECOM, I am in a unique position to tackle the stereotypes and push through boundaries in terms of engineering and diversity. Being the best engineering firm in the world gives me a platform to lead the way in terms of diversity. I'm the first female engineer in my family. My inspiration to become an engineer was my father who made me believe that being female should never restrict my ambition. I started as a traffic engineer, working on local projects and through a very well timed opportunity, I now help secure huge projects across the world. "

Focusing on the big picture

"Everyone wears different hats. Personally, I am quite relaxed and tend to focus on the bigger picture. I am very social and always make time for my nearest and dearest - and professionally, I'm much more driven and assertive. I focus on delivering whilst keeping an eye on all of the elements going on in the background."

Changing perceptions about engineering

"I want engineering to be seen as a desirable profession which appeals to a wider audience and attract talent from all walks of life. There is a huge challenge in the UK of needing more engineers and needing women in our industry has never been more critical.  More women can be encouraged into engineering by showcasing some of the incredible female engineers we already have. We need role models who represent women and can identify with the challenges women face in ordinary life. Better benefits which are specially focused on women such as maternity or flexible working hours will also help."  

Securing a great roles at AECOM

"In a company like AECOM, there are no limits. We work on the best and most interesting engineering projects in the world. My advice would be to investigate the full depth and breadth of projects at AECOM; the AECOM newsletters and Chatter are great for this. Speak to people in AECOM who are outside of your normal working areas, email them and call them.  Find out what they do, understand their projects and hopefully become inspired.  Learning about what we do will help you decide what you want from your career.  As an individual, you can decide how far you want to go and where your ambitions lie. AECOM will support you on this journey."  

Key career advice for women

"The goal posts are different for women but if you speak up, people will listen. You are your best ambassador. Focus on the big picture and what your long term life goals are."  

What's a favourite saying about achievement?

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it - as said by Steve Jobs. Another great quote I like is - If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader - by John Quincy Adams. Greater diversity is critical. Engineering is all about problem solving. Creativity, ingenuity and lateral thinking are essential skills. The greater the diversity - whether in terms of gender, race or background - the better the outcome. We are all the product of our personal and cultural experiences, and we can draw on these diverse backgrounds to be more innovative in solving complex, technical challenges."

Read about further women from AECOM, and their work and views. And if you're looking for a thriving career with AECOM, you can research these current vacancies.

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