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Josie Rothera

Josie Rothera

consultant trainer, PL Projects

Expertise

Project Management

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Raising awareness about women in construction

I was the ICE regional education coordinator for seven years

Became chartered four and a half years after graduating from university

A day in my life

I’m up and about early, getting some fresh air.

Then I tend to run through any administration that I need to get done. In my role that’s lots of marking and feedback.

Then, it’s onto a teaching block. During this block, I’m teaching while also learning from my students, which is always such fun.

My role means that I’m able to speak to people from other industries too, which I think is beneficial for sharing knowledge across the industry.

I volunteer and contribute to other areas of the industry, so you can also find me mentoring aspiring professional engineers, overseeing new apprenticeship development, hearing about new digital technology and sometimes judging awards.

Civil engineers can be traced into every industry, and they will be making a difference.

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

I didn’t have an inspirational person.

I had three criteria when I was choosing my career:

  1. Working outside
  2. Different challenges
  3. Ability to travel

It was the construction industry that ticked all three of these for me.

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

The skills and behaviours you learn from a career in civil engineering will be flexible and transferrable to loads of roles in the industry. You’ll never be bored!

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego?

I didn’t have Lego!

I spent a lot of time outside – and I was a bit adventurous – so enjoyed climbing and exploring. I think this probably helped with my understanding of structures!

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

I’m a civil engineer and I solve problems.

What I mean by this is that it doesn’t matter if you’re in the design office, on site, or in a teaching role. The mindset of a civil engineer is one of creative problem solving. It’s a great skill to have.

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

It’s always different and the challenges can be fun.

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

When you start wanting to be a civil engineer, it might be bridge or a building that inspires you.

When you start to get more experience, you start seeing civil engineering as a much bigger picture: it’s the connecting factor between the environment, communities, economies and the world.

Civil engineers can be traced into every industry, and they will be making a difference.

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

Not a specific one, but I always wanted to do offshore or coastal engineering.

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

That once you're a civil engineer, it means you always have to be a civil engineer!

What you get from civil engineering is an understanding, an approach, and an awareness of how to be innovative in problem solving. This can be transferred to other roles in the industry.

Don’t be pigeon-holed!

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal or professional challenges/difficulties?

While I wouldn’t like to refer to my children as a challenge (although sometimes they are), when I changed to non-project roles after having a family, the knowledge, skills, and experience that I got from civil engineering helped me to stay connected to the industry that I love.

Professionally speaking, being from an under-represented group in our industry, I’ve often been challenged, perhaps more so than others. Having a strong technical background and the confidence to speak up has really helped me shape relationships.

What are you doing to help fight against climate change?

I work for a company whose sustainability values align with my own.

I’m a member of the Yorkshire Rewilding Network and I’m often found planting trees.

I support sustainability projects around the country, such as the fight against sewerage.

I strive to buy ethically.

Most importantly, I ensure that my actions are visible to my network and to my own family, especially my young children. Although at times they’re able to educate me on sustainable behaviours!

Josie's career path

I worked hard to achieve my MEng degree. I kept up this dedication, becoming a Chartered Engineer four and a half years after graduating.

I loved working outside on projects, so working with a main contractor suited me.

I was pleased to be nominated for awards for my work on site, and for raising awareness of women in the industry.

I was the ICE regional education coordinator for seven years, organising activities and events at schools to engage with young people about the benefits of being an engineer.

I moved to academia when I had my family and worked with undergraduates and postgraduates. I used my experience and skills from construction to guide them through their learning.

I remain an engineer in my current role as, even though I’m training, I’m still using my problem solving, collaboration and communication skills to carry out my responsibilities.

In summary:

  • A Levels – maths, English literature, chemistry
  • MEng Civil Engineering (sponsored with summer work placements)
  • CEng MICE
  • Associate of Association for Project Management (APM)
  • Doctor of Engineering (in progress)

Major projects

  • Bridgewater Place, Leeds
  • Great Northern Tower, Manchester
  • Bury Townside Fields, Bury
  • Blackburn Central High School, Blackburn
  • MSc civil engineering course director at Leeds Beckett University
  • Company director of STEER Support and Mentoring CIC