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Ada Nwadigo

Ada Nwadigo

Managing director, Jona Infrastructure Advisory


Construction, Project Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

Making the WES Top 50 Women in Engineering 2024 list

Serving as a delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (68th session)

Working on a wide diveristy of projects throughout my career

A day in my life

My morning starts with a review of key performance indicators (KPIs) and progress reports from various projects, ensuring we're aligned with our strategic goals.

I then join a meeting with senior management to discuss ongoing initiatives, finances, and any emerging issues that need immediate attention.

Late morning, I attend client meetings, where I present project updates, negotiate terms, and build relationships to foster long-term collaboration.

Midday involves site visits to oversee projects, ensuring they meet quality and safety standards.

In the afternoon, I focus on internal matters like mentoring junior staff, conducting performance reviews, and leading training sessions to enhance our team's skills.

I also collaborate on recruitment strategies to attract top talent.

My day ends with strategic planning sessions, where I review market trends, assess business opportunities, and plan for future growth.

I ensure all projects are progressing as planned and set the agenda for the next day's activities.

I strongly believe that diversity at the top is crucial for fostering better leadership and driving positive change in our communities and industries.

Which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

My biggest inspiration came from my family, particularly my mum, who was a civil engineer in Nigeria.

Visiting her office as a child fascinated me, and I vividly remember the various stages of constructing our family home during my teenage years.

One of the most memorable moments was witnessing the borehole drilling process to access clean water from the aquifer.

Also, my grandfather studied mechanical engineer in the same town where I attended university (Brighton).

These experiences ignited my passion for civil engineering and influenced my decision to pursue it as a career.

We asked Ada…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

It offers a unique blend of creativity, problem-solving, and the opportunity to make a tangible impact on the world.

As a civil engineer, you play a crucial role in designing and building infrastructure that improves people's lives, from bridges and roads to sustainable buildings and water systems.

The field is dynamic and diverse, providing a wide range of specialisations and the chance to work on innovative projects.

Also, civil engineering fosters a deep sense of accomplishment as you see your designs come to life and contribute to the development and safety of communities.

With a strong demand for skilled professionals and the ability to work globally, civil engineering also offers excellent career stability and growth potential.

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also…

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also a makeup artist, entrepreneur, and passionate traveler.

Beyond that, I dabble in software development, advocate as a STEM ambassador, host a podcast, and perform as a vocalist in a band.

I also have a deep love for plants and indulge my passion for beauty and fashion, bringing a diverse range of interests and skills to everything I do.

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?

The most complex thing I’ve made out of Lego is a detailed model of a suspension bridge.

It was a challenging project that required careful planning and intricate construction techniques, mirroring the principles used in real-world civil engineering.

The model included movable parts to simulate the bridge's functionality and reinforced structures to ensure stability.

What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?

The excitement of knowing that no two days are the same.

I thrive on the dynamic nature of my work, where challenges are met with innovative solutions and each project brings its own unique set of opportunities.

Being able to witness the tangible impact of my projects on people and the environment is incredibly rewarding.

It fuels my passion to create sustainable and beneficial infrastructure that improves lives and communities.

This sense of purpose drives me to tackle each day with enthusiasm and dedication, knowing that my work contributes positively to the world around me.

What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

I love how diverse it is.

There are so many different sectors of civil engineering, from geotechnical and water to structural design and more.

Being a civil engineer has opened up a lot of opportunities, and I wish I’d known how it would transform my life.

Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust.

The notion that you have to be super smart to succeed in the field.

While technical skill is important, what’s more crucial is having a genuine interest and a strong desire to learn.

Civil engineering coveres a wide range of disciplines and applications, and anyone with a passion for problem-solving and improving infrastructure can excel.

With dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt, you can develop into an exceptional engineer.

The field values practical experience, creativity, and the ability to collaborate effectively as much as academic knowledge.

It’s this combination of interest, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning that truly defines successful civil engineers.

What are you doing to help address climate change?

As an ambassador for the Climate Ambassador Scheme, supported by the University of Reading, UKRI, and STEM Learning, I advocate for climate action and promote awareness about sustainability practices.

I also serve as a committee member and project manager for the Institute of Asset Management's Climate Emergency Program.

In this role, I’m leading efforts to develop guidance on project assessment, which will provide organisations with a framework to assess projects in relation to climate change impacts, risks, and opportunities.

These initiatives reflect my commitment to driving meaningful change and fostering a more sustainable future through practical actions and collaborative efforts in the field of asset management and beyond.

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal hurdles/difficulties?

It’s helped me become more confident in my abilities.

When I first joined the industry, I was initially reserved and hesitant to speak up or ask questions.

I felt pressure to downplay aspects of my personality, but I quickly realised this approach held back my growth.

Embracing my authentic self as a civil engineer in a predominantly male environment has been empowering.

By bringing my whole self to work, I've seen significant improvements in my performance and overall satisfaction.

This transformation wouldn't have been possible without the influence of inspiring female role models who encouraged me to embrace authenticity and challenge stereotypes.

What motivated you to become professionally qualified? 

The desire to enhance my credibility and expertise in the field of civil engineering.

Achieving chartered status with the ICE is a significant milestone in my career, demonstrating my competence, professionalism, and commitment to high standards in engineering practice.

It provides formal recognition of my skills and knowledge, which is crucial for advancing my career opportunities and taking on more challenging and impactful projects.

What does being professionally qualified with the ICE mean for your career?

Professionally qualified status with the ICE also opens up new career opportunities, allowing me to pursue senior roles and leadership positions within the field of civil engineering.

It provides a pathway for continuous professional development, ensuring that I stay updated with the latest industry trends, best practices, and technological advancements.

What’s the best thing about being professionally qualified with the ICE? 

Gaining access to a valuable network, meeting industry leaders, and attending exclusive events.

As an ICE STEM ambassador, I also have the privilege of inspiring the next generation of engineers, contributing to the future of our profession in meaningful ways.

What do you value most about being an ICE member? 

Being an ICE member provides access to a vast network of professionals and opportunities for collaboration.

You can also get involved in shaping the future of the engineering profession by participating in committees, working groups, and events.

Overall, being professionally qualified with the ICE not only validates my expertise but also equips me to make meaningful contributions to the built environment.

How has being a member helped your career? 

It provides professional recognition and credibility, opening doors to senior roles and leadership positions within the industry.

The ICE's resources for continuous learning and development have kept me up-to-date with the latest industry standards and practices.

Networking through the ICE has enabled valuable connections with industry leaders, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Any personal causes?

I’m deeply passionate about empowering women in leadership roles.

I strongly believe that diversity at the top is crucial for fostering better leadership and driving positive change in our communities and industries.

My advocacy extends to breaking down barriers that hold women back from achieving leadership positions, promoting inclusivity, and creating opportunities for mentorship and professional development.

I also had the honour of serving as a delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (68th session).

I actively contributed to discussions and initiatives aimed at advancing gender equality and empowering women globally.

Ada's career path

I studied A-levels in maths, media, and information and communication technology (ICT).

Then, I completed an engineering foundation year at Brunel University London.

After this, I pursued a BEng in civil engineering at the University of Brighton.

During my time at university, I gained practical experience through a summer placement in the water sector, focusing on the reinstatement of a section of the Northern Outfall Sewer designed by Joseph Bazalgette.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I pursued a master’s degree in infrastructure engineering and management at the University of Surrey.