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Molly Kirven

Molly Kirven

Carbon engineer, Balford Beatty


Design, Construction, Geotechnical


United Kingdom
My highlights

Being shortlisted for the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards

Finalist for Best Women Geotechnical Engineer 2023

Achieving ICE EngTech MICE status

A day in my life

A typical day in the life at work looks like:

  • Checking my emails and calendar first thing in the morning
  • Attending any meetings
  • Carrying out contract designs mainly for precast driven piling projects. This entails designing to the relevant Eurocodes and specific standards required, and using many excel spreadsheets and OASYS Alp and AdSec software.
  • Managing other responsibilities such as being a Balfour Beatty lead for the Strategic Design Partnership Early Careers Network.

Being professionally qualified with the ICE means I have the recognised standards of knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to perform current and future work effectively and ethically.

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

I began my civil engineering journey due to my enthusiasm for rocks and the natural ground.

From this I developed a new interest in the structural creations produced by the construction industry.

Throughout my time in the industry so far, I’ve met engineers who inspire me to be the best I can be.

I wish to spotlight Tina Gunnarsson and Katie Thorne, who have both been fantastic mentors and shared incredible opportunities with me to grow as an engineer.

I also want to thank Jane Towse-Laval for providing me with the opportunity to start my career at Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering. 

Also, for being a role model from the beginning of my engineering journey, showcasing female representation in the construction industry in a senior leadership position.

Beyond the amazing female inspirations I have within the industry, my biggest life inspirations are my family: my parents Julie and David, and my sister Rebecca.

They continuously reinforce that I can achieve anything I put my mind to, and have provided me with their best love, support, and guidance to help me achieve all I’ve done to this day.

We asked Molly…

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

When I get out of bed each morning, I’m excited knowing I can positively impact the world through sustainable engineering.

I’m able to contribute to a reduction in the carbon emissions we produce through construction. 

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

It’s a flexible and adaptable work environment, allowing you to advance your versatility and skillset in a range of disciplines.

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

One great thing is the various careers and paths that you can take within the construction industry.

Construction goes beyond designing and building a project.

There are many different types of engineers, designers, advisors, leaders, and roles available to shape your career into something authentic and unique for you.

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

I wish I’d worked on the Hinkley Point C marine works.

I recently visited the site, and I was in awe at the vast scale of the works and expertise used to construct each component of the project so far.

Working on a project of that scale would come with pride and achievement due to its impact on the UK energy sector.

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

One myth is that civil engineering only covers designing and constructing infrastructure such as bridges and buildings.

In reality, civil engineering encompasses a wide variety of disciplines including sustainability, environment, social value, geotechnics, quality, utilities, power, rail, water resource management, and many more.

All of which are crucial in shaping and improving the infrastructure built for our society.

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

A career in civil engineering has significantly improved my confidence through the varying opportunities I’ve been presented with and actively looked for. 

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

To me chartership is one way of celebrating your achievements, milestones, and competency to date. 

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

Being professionally qualified with the ICE means I have the recognised standards of knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to perform current and future work effectively and ethically.

It also demonstrates commitment to continuous learning and professional development which can enhance your career performance within the industry.

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

I was motivated to become professionally qualified because it means my skillset, learning, and experience is at the recognised standard of a professional engineering body.

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

Balfour Beatty has been a supportive company to work for regarding ICE professional development.

My supervising civil engineer, Michael Chalkley, has especially been a great encouragement and inspiration, gaining his ICE Fellow status this year.

What do you value most about being an ICE member?

I value the access to further continued professional development that the ICE provides through industry learning and opportunities available such as webinars.

How has being a member helped your career?

It’s enabled me to view engineering as more than technical learning.

The IPD attribute system has helped me to appreciate other elements. For example, sustainability and commercial matters.

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

My Lego building journey is in its early stages with sets I’ve made including Everyone is Awesome and the Harry Potter Knight Bus.

However, future builds I would love to accomplish are the Lego Globe, and Harry Potter Diagon Alley Weasley Wizard Wheezes.

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

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also a human navigating this journey called life.

I’m growing, learning, and finding my path – aiming to be the kindest and best version of me I can be.

Anything else? i.e. personal causes, hobbies

I’m an avid book worm – I enjoy dystopian fiction books and self-help non-fiction books.

I’m also a train spotter with my dad.

My personal favourite freight train is the class 66 fleet, with special mention to the class 66721 ‘Harry Beck’ train.

Molly's career path

My background studies include a BSc (Hons) in Geology, and an MSc in Applied Petroleum Geoscience, both at the University of Derby.

I transitioned straight from university to a career in the geotechnical and construction industry, beginning my journey as a contracts engineer at HS2.

I then transitioned into the Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering main business.

I undertook a design secondment for my continued professional development, which turned into my previous role as a design engineer.

In January 2024, I moved to the Balfour Beatty major projects and highways specific business unit to be a carbon engineer.

Also at Balfour Beatty, I’ve been part of the Knowledge Series team, which was shortlisted for the Training Excellence category at the Construction News (CN) Awards 2023.

I’ve also created and delivered the ‘How to build greener’ knowledge series, which consisted of seven webinars presented by industry experts, capturing over 1000 unique attendees.

I also created the ‘How to maximise inclusivity’ knowledge series, beginning with neurodiversity and disability, to spotlight how we can enhance inclusivity in construction sites.

I’m also the Balfour Beatty lead for the Strategic Design Partnership Early Careers Network 2.0 between Mott MacDonald, AtkinsRealis, Jacobs and Balfour Beatty.

I act as a committee member and provide networking opportunities for over 3,500 early careers professionals.

Major projects

My most memorable project, due to its creativity, is See Monster, an innovative art exhibition displaying the great British weather experienced at Weston Super Mare.

I acted as the project lead for the precast driven piling works that provide a foundational support for the 600-tonne decommissioned North Sea oil rig.