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23 June 2020

LOR engineers leading the way on International Women in Engineering Day

On #INWED20 we are celebrating just some of the amazing women in Laing O’Rourke who are playing a key role in delivering the company’s most enterprising and innovative projects.

Women (and men) all over the globe will today be helping to raise the profile of women engineers and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all. We’re proud to play a part in this as we #ShapeTheWorld together.

We caught up with four of our engineers to ask them about their jobs, their inspirations and their advice to girls who might consider a career in engineering.

Urszula Kanturska

Urszula Kanturska is a principal engineer at Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear power plant built in the UK in a generation. She leads a team of 3D modellers, software developers and other specialists. Their job is to provide the Laing O’Rourke team with the information they need to make their lives safer, easier and more efficient.

What inspired you to become an engineer and why is it an exciting career choice?


I always liked solving problems. I was good at maths at school and I always had lots of energy and ideas. I always wanted to know “how things work”.

My dad is an engineer too, in a road construction company. Some of my earliest memories are him being angry when someone said, “look they are pouring asphalt there”. “Asphalt is not poured, it is laid” he always said. I was always proud to be able to say “my dad built that” to my friends.

I still find it fascinating, how a group of people can come together and coordinate complex tasks and the movement of materials and machines to deliver amazing buildings, bridges, or to dig a tunnel through a mountain. It often looks too complex to be possible, but human ingenuity makes it possible. Seeing it every day is what makes my career really rewarding.

How has Laing O’Rourke supported your development and career progression as an engineer?

I joined Laing O’Rourke in 2012 and over the last 8 years I have had opportunities to work on a truly varied range of projects. I have learned a lot about construction, and still have loads to learn.

I was trusted to work on problems that nobody had managed to solve before. It has been really exciting to know I am doing something new and important.

I am now a mum to a very lively toddler, and I was on maternity leave for a year. The company was really supportive of my need for flexibility when I first went back to work. I was able to split my time and energy between my family and career.

Laing O’Rourke allowed me to take on extra responsibilities only when I was ready, which was greatly appreciated.

Rossella Nicolin

Rossella Nicolin is the structures discipline leader in our Europe Technical Hub. Although she only joined the company last month, she is already working on some of our most exciting projects and bids, from One Heritage Tower to the proposal to build a new stadium for Everton Football Club.

Tell us about the variety of work you do as an engineer?


I decided to become a structural engineer after visiting Notre Dame in Paris as a teenager: I was truly inspired by the creative use of columns and other structural forms that were supporting the building and I discovered that engineering could combine into one profession my love for art and science.

As a technical director I’ve been involved in a number of large projects around the world, in particular stadiums and sports structures, like the Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar, and airports such as Hong Kong’s Third Runway Concourse.

I have also travelled and lived in different countries for my job, I even worked in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake on post-disaster recovery.That’s the real beauty of being an engineer, working on a great variety of projects that have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Why did you become an engineer and if there is a young girl considering it as a career choice, what piece of advice would you give to her?


I became an engineer to be impactful. I had a part in the design of a series of large structures around the world and it gives me such a thrill knowing that the fruit of our work is a tangible product where people live, work and use.

They should not be put off by the usual stereotypes of engineers as a simple fixer or a ‘man job’. Engineers are creative problem-solvers, finding ways to build projects efficiently and sustainably. So, if you are a young girl dreaming of this, make a clear plan with milestones and keep learning. You can be part of the next generation of engineers all focused on zero-carbon buildings and infrastructure.

Natasha Bellamy

Natasha Bellamy is technical manager at the company’s prestigious Nine Elms N6 Project and a member of the Young Guns development programme. Before Nine Elms she worked at the Intu Watford project and on the construction of the Leadenhall Building.

What is the best thing about your job?

I’m inspired by the boundaries that continue to be exceeded in design by engineers through innovation, the challenge to always solve a problem and make designs increasingly better, whilst also providing the necessities and infrastructure for all walks of society.

I get excited to learn something new and know that I can stretch my mind and skills to continue to grow as a person. If I’m not learning something new or pushing myself to challenge my way of thinking, then I can become demotivated. Engineering can be challenging, but challenging is exciting as it will help you to develop as a person; teamwork, problem solving, tenacity and drive!

Do not be discouraged because the profession is predominantly male – we need more women in the field! As a child my parents never put any limits on what careers my siblings and I wanted to follow, and I believe this should be the case for every young person. Anything is achievable with hard work and nurturing.

How has Laing O’Rourke supported your development and career progression as an engineer?

I’m very grateful for the mentors that I’ve had throughout my career that have listened to my desires for development and career progression and pushed me to take on new challenges. It’s important to establish a network amongst your peers and senior leaders as this helps to expose you to what is happening in the wider business.

One of the reasons I enjoy working for Laing O’Rourke is because of the innovative thinking and the opportunities that are given to advance your career. Their development programmes are well structured and adaptable as the business grows and develops. I’ve been a part of the Young Guns programme which challenged me to think laterally when it comes to my day to day job, and strive to become someone that influences my team, and the business and become a leader. 

Mairead McGeeney

Mairead McGeeney is a project manager at Expanded, Laing O’Rourke’s specialist frame business. At the moment she is working at the London College of Fashion new building at London’s Olympic Park and this is her first appointment as project manager for this very high profile project. She joined the company almost a decade ago as a graduate trainee.

What is your engineering discipline and what types of projects have you worked on? 


I am a chartered civil engineer; I knew early in my career I wanted to work for a contractor and be part of the delivery phase of construction projects. I like being on the front line of works - on site and learning from the trades on the ground. I have been fortunate enough to experience many different parts of the construction industry whilst working for Laing O’Rourke; from heavy civil engineering projects, residential buildings, shopping centres, hospitals, hotels, a marine port, to a college of fashion. Each one has its own criteria and varying teams, which is what makes this career path so exciting. 

How did people react when you said you wanted to become an engineer?


When I decided I wanted to become an engineer my father was quite worried as it is a male dominated industry and he was concerned it would be difficult for me to work there. I still believed that I could thrive in this industry where there is so much versatility and I really enjoyed working in a team environment with all different types of people.  

How has Laing O’Rourke supported your development and career progression as an engineer?

Laing O’Rourke has supported my development throughout my career by putting me through leadership development programmes such as Young Guns and they are sponsoring my masters at Cambridge University.

I have had a number of inspirational mentors and line managers over the years. They have all added to my experience and contributed to making me the successful engineer and project manager that I am today. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it, and I would encourage other ladies to also join this industry as engineers as it can offer so much. 

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