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Elena Lindsey

Elena Lindsey

Lead civil engineer and project manager, Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands


Project Management, Environmental Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

President’s Future Leader 2023/24

Designing effective flood defence structures

Working on incredible site locations, like Special Protected Areas

A day in my life

A day in the life at King Edward Point, South Georgia starts by waking up to king penguins and elephant seals outside the windows.

Living in a remote community with colleagues from multiple organisations, I touch base with other professionals regarding urgent works for the day.

I walk around to the historic Grytviken whaling station, where the workshop is located, and distribute urgent tasks to the build team.

I spend time collaborating with the government officers on the day’s activities and continue to programme works for myself and the build team for the upcoming weeks.

I meet with colleagues from the UK to review designs and arrange logistics of material deliveries for future projects.

Site visits include boating to remote bays to inspect emergency huts, and hiking to the dams that supply fresh water to the base, all while navigating the native wildlife.

My days are so varied that I could write several versions of this in the future!

Through my career I’m now inspired by engineering solutions that you can’t see, and the engineers taking risks to implement their ideas.

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

I was initially inspired by large-scale visible civil engineering projects, the biggest bridges and tallest skyscrapers – incredible feats of engineering.

Through my career I’m now inspired by engineering solutions that you can’t see, and the engineers taking risks to implement their ideas.

We asked Elena…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

… this industry provides the opportunity to work in multi-disciplinary environments worldwide.

The opportunity to adventure to new places, impart knowledge and improve engineering processes in remote and extreme environments are unparalleled.

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

Advocating for change and improvements in the industry motivates me to start the day.

By gaining experience and feeding this back to my organisation I’m aiding in continuous development in the industry.

This may not include changes in design or construction techniques, but processes, governance and team relationships that rather heavily impact the success of projects.

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 the ease of collaboration between like-minded individuals.

Every colleague I’ve had the privilege to work with has considered environmental protection as a primary outcome.

Working towards this common goal – no matter the nature or scale of the project – affords for smooth collaboration and minimises conflict.

Imagine the outcomes if we prioritised the UN SDGs above all else on a project …. food for thought!

Which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?

Having recently visited the Clifton Suspension Bridge for the first time (thoroughly recommend the tour!) my first instinct is to say ‘take me back to where it all began’.

The industrial revolution was incredibly exciting for engineers and progressive thinkers, alas, not as a woman.

I’d like to go back to the 50s and interrupt the designs that threw concrete into the ground like fertiliser, and instead grow sustainable assets with environmentally conscious materials.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking that anybody could’ve prevented the downward spiral of wasteful and carbon-intensive materials.

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

I’d like to bust the myth that engineering is ‘all maths and physics’.

There’s an incredibly broad range of skills required to become an engineer, and developing techniques in management, estimation, risk identification and mitigation, and relationship building (to name a few!) are all vital to the role.

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

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also an adventurer, taking every opportunity to hike, climb, camp, and swim in extreme environments.

Anything else? i.e. personal causes, hobbies

As risk averse as many engineers are (or learn to be) I would tell anybody and everybody to get out and take a risk – travel somewhere new, take on a project that scares you.

Nobody ever made an impact by doing the same as has always been done…

Elena's career path

I passed my master’s in engineering degree straight from secondary school.

I used summer breaks to gain experiences in non-engineering roles to broaden my skillset.

I began my career in a consultancy, working on flood risk management, coastal adaptation, and river engineering.

This enabled me to see the process of design from idea conception through to construction handover.

Broadening my experiences again, I took an opportunity to work on site in highways and infrastructure.

A personal ethos of mine is to protect the environment from social advancement, and I sought the opportunity to do this in the Falkland Islands and on South Georgia.

This is the most direct way I can limit human impact on pristine and scientifically valuable environments.

I continue to build on my project management skills and would recommend asking for small PM tasks to build up to the full role.

Major projects

  • Burton Flood Risk Management Scheme (Burton upon Trent, UK)
  • National Sports Council access road (Stanley, Falkland Islands)
  • New cemetery design (Stanley, Falkland Islands)
  • Micro-hydro design and installation (South Georgia)
  • Waste oil remediation (Stromness, South Georgia)