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Giuliana Kyerematen

Giuliana Kyerematen

Civil and structural engineer, Costain

Expertise

Design, Structural

Location

United Kingdom
My highlights

Graduating from university with a master's degree in civil and structural engineering

Chairing the ICE North West Early Careers Network (ECNet)

Successful running the first Sustainability Poster Competition in the North West since the pandemic

A day in my life

No two days are the same!

What my days consist of varies greatly depending on the project and whether I’m office-based or onsite.

In general, my day starts with checking emails and Teams messages from the previous day and updating my to-do lists.

My to do lists will then contain a combination of the following:

  • Carrying out design/assessment calculations
  • Writing/reviewing reports
  • Carrying out desktop studies
  • Participating in progress meetings
  • Drafting project documentation
  • Reviewing project information from the client

On projects where I’ve had the opportunity to go onsite, these would also be added:

  • Writing up/reviewing risk assessment and method statements (RAMS)
  • Working out logistics of getting to the sites and carrying out the required work – whether supervising works, providing design support, or doing inspections
  • Reporting back to the office team regularly with updates

Now more than ever we're witnessing a shift in the work we do towards achieving net zero and more sustainable engineering – and we get to be part of this!

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

Growing up in Italy, I was constantly exposed to stunning historic engineering and architecture which kickstarted my love for structures at an early age.

These range from the more renowned ones like the Tower of Pisa, and the Arena of Verona, to the more local and less known, such as the Nonantola Abbey and the Trepponti Bridge in Comacchio.

At the time, this translated into my wanting to become an architect due to a lack of knowledge as to what engineering was other than the misconception that it was a hard subject for really smart people.

Eventually, through work experience and summer schools I came to the realisation that architecture wasn’t what I really wanted to do.

Through research I found out about civil and structural engineering – the perfect combination of technical design, creativity, and so much more.

We asked Giuliana…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

There are a lot of fields and different projects of varying scales to get involved in.

So no two days will be the same and there will always be something new to learn.

Also, now more than ever we’re witnessing a shift in the work we do towards achieving net zero and more sustainable engineering – and we get to be part of this!

With all the ups and downs, it will be a fulfilling career at the end of the day with the work we do directly improving people’s lives.

And that’s whether you’re working on the latest major infrastructure project, or a local, small scale refurbishment project!

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

…an aerialist, and generally a very active person.

As my job role requires me to spend quite a lot of time sitting, I tend to do something active at least 2-3 times a week, whether it’s aerial classes, going to the gym, running, or going for a walk or hike.

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

I never really played with Lego other than occasionally when I was little!

I’ve however been considering attempting some of the more artsy constructions such as the flower bouquets which have been popular recently.

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

We do meaningful work for meaningful reasons, and what we do directly and positively impacts people’s lives in terms of health, safety and wellbeing.

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

There’s such a wide breadth of fields in the industry, and because of this, progression routes are plenty and varied.

Also, this makes it interesting to network in the industry as there’s always something new to learn about an interesting project you may have never heard of.

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

The Ordsall Chord Bridge in Manchester crossing the River Irwell.

It’s a local small railway bridge in Manchester which was designed as part of a new connection line between the Manchester railway stations. It aimed to reduce congestion and opening up new routes for passengers.

I saw it being built from afar and kept thinking how great it would’ve been to be part of the design and construction of a great, local project. One that would eventually have a positive impact on the lives of the public in terms of transport.

I actually recall that, being in a phase of strong interest in bridges at the time, I’d researched all I could find on the project.

I even discussed it at a job interview with one of the stakeholders to get insider knowledge on the project!

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

That we all sit hunched over a desk crunching numbers all day.

Yes, there are roles that may require this to some extent, but there are so many different fields and roles that can complement or move away from the heavily technical skills.

And opportunities may be office-based, site-based or a combination of the two.

So, to anyone considering a career in civil engineering, I recommend that you do your research and don’t let yourself be scared off by these myths!

What are you doing to help address climate change?

I’ve been educating myself on sustainable development and construction.

Taking part in the Giki Games (an employee engagement initiative) with my company earlier in the year helped me understand the different ways to cut my carbon emissions in day-to-day life.

In my personal life, I try my best to consider alternative methods of transport to driving, like trains or car sharing.

Also, I follow a flexitarian diet where I mostly eat vegetarian food, having meat products occasionally, as a way of reducing my carbon footprint.

How has your work enhanced the lives of people?

Most of the projects I’ve worked on have included repairs and upgrades to existing highways infrastructure.

By doing this kind of work, we’re ensuring that the infrastructure that the public uses daily is safe right now, and for years to come.

I’ve also helped to expand the capacity of the Piccadilly Line through the design of new signalling infrastructure that’s suitable to the new fleet of railway vehicles coming into passenger service in 2025.

This provides additional capacity on the trains, improving transport options for the public.

When I joined the ICE North West ECNet, I had the opportunity to organise and host a panel for International Women in Engineering Day. This was a great success and very well received.

It provided a safe space for discussion around some great questions such as ways to overcome imposter syndrome, and career progression advice for young female engineers.

What motivated you, or is motivating you, to become professionally qualified? 

Becoming professionally qualified seems like the natural next step to getting an engineering degree, so I’m currently working towards it.

Chartered Engineer is a globally recognised qualification which will open many doors for me.

But at the same time, it will also affirm that my engineering knowledge and skills are on par with what the Engineering Council and the ICE have set to be the standard for professional qualification.

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

New, exciting, and greater breadth of opportunities, especially for career progression.

How did the ICE and your employer support you to become professionally qualified? 

I’m currently working towards professional qualification, and I’ve had a lot of support along the way so far.

With Costain, I’m on a training agreement, and through this I’ve been assigned a delegated engineer (DE) and a supervising civil engineer (SCE).

Both have been incredibly helpful along the way, providing me with advice on ways to achieve the different attributes and broaden my general knowledge and skills as an engineer.

What has really helped is working closely with both, which means they have good visibility of the projects I’m working on and can help me identify skills that I’ve gained through certain work.

My employer has also been very understanding and supportive of my engagement with the ICE NW ECNet. This has allowed me to make the most of the opportunity which has certainly helped a lot with my professional and personal development.

The ICE has also been a great support with the CPD resources available through the website, including lectures, webinars and other online resources on the ICE Knowledge Hub.

The yearly visits from the region’s membership development officer (MDO) are also a really helpful check-in point to review progress towards professional qualification and an opportunity to set goals.

What do you value most about being an ICE member? 

Access to a wide range of resources, on a multitude of topics, available in a variety of formats.

Recorded online lectures, in-person talks, networking events, papers, blogs, e-learning modules and podcasts on the Knowledge Hub, technical courses, etc.

How has being a member helped your career? 

I’ve been able to take part in a lot of initiatives which have helped me develop professionally and personally.

For example, joining the ICE North West ECNet and eventually taking on the role of chair has allowed me to develop leadership and management skills.

Also, my communication skills have improved thanks to all the networking opportunities I’ve had the opportunity to take part in, as well as hosting meetings and events.

Anything else?

I'm a keen baker, an avid reader, and lover of solo travels and exploring new places, whether in the UK or abroad.

Giuliana's career path

I studied for an MEng in Civil and Structural Engineering at Liverpool John Moores University, with a sandwich placement (year in industry).

After graduating, I was fortunate to get offered a position on Costain's graduate scheme, and I've been here ever since.

I’ve been working on a variety of projects across different fields, and progressed to becoming a civil and structural engineer within the last year.

Major projects