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Entrepreneur becomes youngest woman to achieve ICE Fellowship

19 June 2024

Brittany Harris, CEO of Qualis Flow and past ICE President’s Future Leader, became a Fellow when she was 31.

Entrepreneur becomes youngest woman to achieve ICE Fellowship
Brittany Harris is CEO and co-founder of Qualis Flow. Image credit: Brittany Harris

Brittany Harris, who founded her first company in her 20s, has become the youngest woman to be awarded the title of ICE Fellow.

A civil engineer and CEO of Qualis Flow, Harris was just 31 when she achieved the top professional award earlier this year.

Harris is among a small number of members that have gained the ICE’s highest grade of membership in their early 30s in recognition of outstanding contributions to civil engineering and society.

Harris set up Qualis Flow, a tech company with offices in London and New York, to help decarbonise the construction industry by using data to cut waste and optimise the use of materials.

She is also a non-executive director to the Environment Agency Board, an enterprise Fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering, and guest lecturer at multiple universities.

She was named Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 by the Westcountry Women Awards.

She was an ICE President’s Future Leader in 2016 under the mentorship of Professor Tim Broyd.

‘Younger and more diverse voices are not only valuable, but vital’

With the announcement of her Fellowship coming in the lead up to International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2024, Harris is hoping to inspire more young women to follow in her footsteps.

She said: “Our knowledge and experience of technology, our ability to apply it appropriately, and our passion and interest in sustainable construction and engineering, means that younger and more diverse voices are not only valuable but vital to the future success of civil engineering and our ability to serve society.”

The ICE is working to bring inclusivity to all grades of membership, representative of the diverse society it serves.

The institution has developed a focused initiative, ICE Connects, to encourage, support and develop diversity in fellowship.

The network is already turning the tide, helping to deliver a 42% increase in female Fellows in less than three years.

‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’

Harris acknowledges that some of her peers may feel daunted by stepping up as civil engineering leaders, but her advice is to take the plunge.

“It can feel scary and intimidating taking on roles that others of your age, gender, race, or background haven't previously held. However, I was taught at a young age to feel the fear and do it anyway,” said Harris.

“The worst thing that can happen is that you get rejected, which in itself is a fantastic opportunity to learn and improve.”

The latest research by EngineeringUK shows that the proportion of women working across all engineering and technology roles has declined in the past year, from 16.5% to 15.7%, and is concentrated among women aged 35 to 44.

Against this backdrop, the ICE sees its ongoing engagement work as vital in developing role models who can step forward to share their stories and expertise across the career spectrum.

Of all ICE members under the age of 40, 23% of are now women and overall female membership at the ICE has almost doubled over the last 15 years.


Harris has been inspired and supported on her journey to fellowship by Rachel Skinner CBE, executive director at WSP, a member of the ICE Connects focus group and the youngest ever president of the ICE.

“I really like the accidental symmetry we've created with the youngest ever ICE president sponsoring the youngest ever woman to become an ICE Fellow,” said Skinner.

“There are too many well-rehearsed myths out there about the years of experience you 'must have' to secure Fellowship of engineering institutions, so this is a very healthy check to reassure others who aspire to Fellowship that our review panels are fair and genuinely judging on merit.”

For Harris, this is welcome progress for the institution and the civil engineering profession:

“The industry is changing rapidly around us. Diversity of thought is essential to the future of our profession, so it's great to see that there are women and other underrepresented groups making an impact.”

Find out more about becoming an ICE Fellow

  • Lidia Pearce, communications lead at ICE South West