SAE – Paula McMahon

I am a Civil Engineer at Sir Robert McAlpine

I have worked in very many jobs doing lots of interesting things including designing and building chemical plants, designing a nuclear power plant and maintaining The Thames Barrier.  I now help look after a major road called the A19 where the whole team look after everything including the road surface, bridges, trees and signs.

From a work experience at my local council I successfully applied to be an apprentice there.  I was pleased to get lots of experience and I achieved an ONC in Civil Engineering as a Trainee Technician.  I was promoted to Trainee Engineer and I was lucky to be sponsored though a Degree in Civil Engineering.  After many years at work I became professionally qualified as a Chartered Engineer.

My proudest moments so far: I am pleased that I have been able to mentor lots of people during my career which has led to many other Engineers who are also doing good work.
I am also very proud of the three books I wrote about my adventures with Lottie.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

When I am going on site I need to check what I am doing by reading my Method Statement.  All equipment needs to be checked including the need for spare batteries.  Before driving to site we check our vehicles including lights, tyres and petrol.
I now mainly work in the office where I speak to lots of people about helping them get trained and I help with keeping our site safe with our site safety leadership team.

What advice would you give to your 15 year old self

Follow your dreams and don’t let small set backs knock you back – have several routes to where you want to get to as Plan A does not always work out.

Who or what inspired you to get into engineering?

My Mam encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and she has always inspired me.

What are your favourite hobbies, or interests?

I love spending time with my kittens and I enjoy growing vegatables in my garden.

What are the best and worst things about the job?

“The best thing about my job is the variety and that I have made a difference by building things people need.
Sometimes when you are working on site the weather can make work much harder!”

Have you had any career setbacks or challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Often things don’t go to plan like meeting being cancelled or projects being stopped early.  The best things to do is to take a deep breath and concentrate upon the things that you can control and stay positive.

Where do you see your industry in 25 – 50 years time?

I believe in the near future the whole of the engineering industry will have to become more sustainable.  We shall be maintaining more and building new less.