Inspiring Engineers: soft skills matter as much as engineering

In the latest of our Inspiring Engineers series of talks WSP's Rachel Skinner tells young engineers that interpersonal skills need working on as well.

Rachel Skinner: get to know industry people and issues
Rachel Skinner: get to know industry people and issues

Rachel Skinner of WSP - a future president of ICE - gripped an audience of young engineers with her 20 year experience in the industry.

Having graduated in geography, Rachel told the audience of how she fell into her career starting life as a town planner.

One of her strongest pieces of advice was to urge civil engineers to really hone their soft skills and make the most of networking to get to know people throughout the industry. Rachel added that these skills are crucial for both career advancement but also to help gain a wider understanding of the issues facing the industry.

Working with thinkers as well as doers was also critical to building a successful career. and "thinking the unthinkable" when designing projects was also encouraged. She referred to her own role in thinking about autonomous vehicles and how connectivity can work in future cities.

To achieve true success in the industry, she argued that engineers have to be prepared to put the effort in to maximise their potential - not assume they can get more out of situations than they put in.

Looking back over 20 years Rachel remarked that despite challenges she grasped opportunities when she could. This has resulted in her running a department in WSP that is larger than the first company she joined.

Want to find out what makes some of the most influential civil engineers tick? Click on the link below to join us on 2 March for our next Inspiring Engineer talk from Turner &Townsend's Patricia Moore.

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