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Voices of progress: fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR) in career development

Event organised by ICE

17 October 2023
17:00 - 19:00 BST (GMT+1)
Newcastle University
Room 1.01
Cassie Building
Claremont Road
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU
United Kingdom

This event has now ended

You can catch-up on details or any broadcast and downloads here.


This event will explore the influence of fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR) in the workplace, focusing on how these values have affected the careers of the panel members. The panel will discuss how FIR has shaped their respective career trajectories to date, with the opportunity to hear perspectives from various career routes, including graduate and apprentice pathways, as we dive into their experiences progressing their career in the engineering sector.

After hearing our speakers’ stories, we will then turn our attention to the now, learning about the great initiatives that are driving FIR in the industry and hearing practical advice to help you understand what you can do to help support your fellow colleagues. We will also learn about how FIR influences the panellists' roles day to day and how they see the current situation.

Finally, we will close on the future, consider what is next for FIR within the civil engineering industry and hear our panelist insights into where they believe the industry’s future direction is. There will then be an opportunity to ask our panelists questions.

There will be time for networking at the start of the event to help you meet new colleagues in the industry. Food will be provided before the panel event begins, as part of the networking.

There will be time for questions and answers, however if there are any questions you know you would like to ask, please email them to [email protected] in advance. We will aim to incorporate the question into the session or share the question with the panelist before the event.


17:00 - 17:30

Arrival, networking and food

17:30 - 17:45


17:45 - 18:30

Panel discussion

18:30 - 18:45

Q&A with attendees


Paula McMahon

Paula McMahon

Sir Robert McAlpine

#TheLine founder and regional supervising officer

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Paula McMahon

Paula started life as a civil engineering apprentice with her local Council straight from school.

She is currently the regional supervising officer for Sir Robert McAlpine’s Northern region where she oversees the professional development of future ICE members.

She also manages the Social Value for the A19 DBFO Project, is an employee representative and sits on several Affinity and leadership groups.

Her career has been wide ranging and varied and has included significant roles on high profile projects including the Thames Barrier, Hinkley Point C and DUBAL Aluminium. She is a Chartered Fellow of the ICE and Chartered Management Institute as well as being a Fellow of the Women’s Engineering Society and Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Manufactures.

Paula is currently the North East Chair and Honorary Editor and Panel Chair for the flagship ICE Proceedings: Civil Engineering. She also sits on several strategy groups including the North East Chamber of Commerce Transport Forum and Teesside University’s Engineering Board where she is also a visiting lecturer.

Paula strongly believes in inspiring our next generation of civil engineers and educating everyone to work towards an equitable and sustainable future.

She is the driving force behind Engineering Together which brings together a wide selection of UK and International Engineering Institutions and bodies to work collaboratively to raise awareness and understanding of engineers and engineering.

She set up Primary Voices to impress the need for urgency climate action whilst providing everyday solutions to help tackle the climate crisis.

She is regularly invited to speak at national and international events on a range of topics including engineering, diversity and sustainability.

Paula’s work in the industry and education has earned her many Awards and accolades including the prestigious European WICE Award Lifetime in Engineering for 2021.

Nuwanthi Thennakoonwela

Nuwanthi Thennakoonwela

Mott MacDonald

graduate civil engineer

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Nuwanthi Thennakoonwela

Nuwanthi is currently working as a graduate civil engineer at Mott MacDonald. Following her graduation from Swansea University, she relocated to Newcastle. Nuwanthi is currently the ICE Early Careers Network North East Co-Chair, and the journey to being where she is today has taught her a lot in the process. Bringing together a diverse group of individuals and nurturing a sense of community requires a culture of respect, understanding, and acceptance. Nuwanthi believes that this naturally contributes to creating a generation of engineers that will have a butterfly effect on our world, especially at a time when we need all hands on deck.

Kieran Valentine

Kieran Valentine

Hoare Lea

head of diversity, equality and inclusion

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Kieran Valentine

Kieran began his career in the higher education sector with prestigious institutions including Durham University and Imperial College before moving into the charitable sector with Amnesty International. The last decade has seen Kieran operate exclusively within the built environment, first with Cundall where he was responsible for their award-winning Valuing Diversity strategy, and now as Hoare Lea’s first Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

A passionate advocate for a diverse and inclusive built environment sector, Kieran is a member of CIBSE’s Inclusivity Committee, and holds a wealth of experience in driving cultures of fairness, inclusion and respect through strategy, policy, and education.

Nick Roper

Nick Roper

Sir Robert McAlpine


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Nick Roper

Nick Roper (he/him/his) started a career in construction after graduating from Newcastle University. Initially working in structural and civil design on projects in the educational, industrial and small residential sectors. Moving onto a site-based supervisory role with Sir RobertMcAlpine, latterly transitioning into planning and has recently celebrated 10 years of service with the company. He chaired the LGBT+ Network for several years and is now co-chair, aiding the network advise to the company leadership and supporting LGBT+ employees. Universally coming out as bisexual at work on National Coming Out Day, as he became chair; Nick is an advocate for clear, non-adversarial dialogue in the workplace for the challenges we face.

For more information please contact:

Joanne Topping

Sustainable Development Goals: