Jenny Giles

Jenny Giles

Senior civil engineer

Country: UK

Specialisms: Coastal and marine, constructions, project management

Career highlights

How I became a civil engineer

I wanted to be an engineer from the age of 14 but also wanted to embrace my creative side and chose art, alongside maths and physics at A-level which make a perfect set of knowledge for a future in civil engineering.

I did a placement year while at university returning to do my masters with renewed vigour.  On graduating I temporarily worked for a land surveyor and also did PR for a contractor before gaining my first site job. Following this, I got a position with a consultancy, where I honed my design skills on various domestic and commercial projects.

I discovered I had a keen interest in infrastructure projects so moved to a local authority as a project engineer.  I was responsible for the design and delivery of various projects. In this role I began to specialise in coastal engineering. Here I sat my professional review with the ICE and gained chartered engineer status. In my current position with Geomarine, I have the opportunity to advance my management skills and progress my career further.

As the only female contracting civil engineer in Guernsey I am part of a group promoting diversity in the workplace. I also work with the Channel Island Group of Professional Engineers (CIGPE) to ensure that engineering careers are viewed as a real option.

Jenny at the Hanois Lighthouse, Guernsey. The project ultimately won an award.

Jenny at the Hanois Lighthouse, Guernsey. The project ultimately won an award.

My working day

First thing, I would usually visit a site I am responsible to check everyone has all the information they need and know what they are doing for the day.  I will then spend time in the office perhaps doing calculations for designing temporary works (scaffolds, props etc), or writing plans, ordering materials or pricing for new jobs, researching a new technique or product I may need to use or analysing the financial performance of a job. 

I am constantly looking ahead, planning the next works and how we will achieve the desired construction, what machinery to use, where the materials will come from and who would be the best people to work on the job.

I have to solve any problems that arise onsite and keep clients up to date on developments.  I might also attend meetings with designers, clients and other contractors to plan works ahead. I might finally do another site visit to check on progress and ensure works are measured and recorded.

The sites I work on can vary so much – from a sandy beach or an offshore lighthouse, to a power station or a private house. I have had to get a boat or even a helicopter to sites I’ve worked on. You have to know how to dress for the occasion too as sometimes I am knee deep in mud and other times I am in a meeting room and need to look smarter.

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This is such a rewarding career: working outdoors, solving problems and a real sense of achievement as every hurdle is overcome. I get to interact with the natural environment and shape how we live in it.

Jenny Giles

Senior civil engineer

I want to become a civil engineer.

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