Helping to provide an A road to success, and mark International Women in Engineering Day, one of National Highways’ female Project Managers visited a school to share the death-defying story of why she became involved in the construction and engineering sector.
Nikki Rowley-Todd, the Project Manager leading the £100 million A47 Blofield – North Burlingham dualling scheme in Norfolk, spent the day with year 10 students at Ken Stimpson Community School in Peterborough as they practised interview techniques and discussed future career aspirations.
As part of a talk, Nikki explained that a single vehicle near-fatal collision – which she was involved in nine years ago – inspired her to join National Highways after the central reservation barrier saved her life and prevented the vehicle she was travelling in from crossing into oncoming traffic.
Speaking about the experience, Nikki said: “I can say – hand on heart – the fact that National Highways had built such a good central reserve barrier literally saved my life, so I decided I wanted to work in the industry to help make roads safer and hopefully help others in the way I’d been helped myself.
“I think an important part of that process is speaking to young people and sharing my experience – particularly as a woman – in what is considered a male-dominated industry.”
Across the school, 124 year 10 students underwent mock interviews with staff from National Highways and Galliford Try – National Highways’ contractors helping to deliver the nearby Blofield – North Burlingham road improvement project.
Rachel Patman, Careers Coordinator Ken Stimpson Community School, said: “These types of activities present a valuable learning experience for our students in terms of building confidence and awareness of interview techniques which students will come to rely on at key points throughout their lives.
“Having Nikki speak to our students about her own role in the construction industry was an active demonstration that gender bias should play no part in preventing young women from moving into the engineering and construction sectors if they feel that is the right path for them.”
The Blofield – North Burlingham dualling project is one of six major road improvement projects worth over a half a billion pounds that National Highways plans to deliver to the 115-mile section of the A47 between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth.
A £17 million upgrade to Guyhirn junction in Cambridgeshire – which officially opened last year – was the first of the schemes to be completed.
Across the duration of the A47 projects, the teams undertaking the work on behalf of National Highways regularly visit schools across the region to explain their work and promote what has become known as the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Addressing the issue of gender bias across the construction and engineering sector, Nikki added: “I have not experienced any gender-based discrimination in my career and, contrary to popular belief, the construction industry is not exclusively for men.
“I feel it has come a long way in terms of gender equality, and I believe that women should feel empowered to join the field.”
(Picture – National Highways)