Vicky Stewart

Vicky shares her story:

When I was growing up, I was interested in music and sound, and good at subjects like maths and science. By the time I started studying for my GCSEs, I had set my heart on a career behind the scenes in media or music because I wanted to follow my passions.

I hosted my own radio show on local hospital radio every Sunday throughout my GCSEs and A levels, which was really good for my confidence, and cemented my decision to work in sound. During my A-levels I applied for various university courses, and visiting the acoustic facilities at Salford University’s Audio Technology Open Day, I knew it was the right course for me. I wasn’t quite sure what all the facilities were for, but I was pretty adamant that I wanted to find out, and I started the course in the autumn of 1999.

University was really hard work. I went from being one of six girls in my A-level physics group at an all girls grammar school, to being one of three girls out of a group of 70. The schedule was full on, with lectures, tutorials and lab sessions, but it was so different from being at school and living at home and I really loved it. In my second year, I was given the chance to sign up for a year in industry; the placement was the best decision I have ever made. Having studied audio technology for two years, I wanted to take a step back and make sure that being an acoustic consultant was what I wanted to do. Plus it meant living somewhere different and earning some money. My industrial placement at Atkins gave me the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, which I was able to feed back into my degree in my final year. I also had some wonderful mentors, made lots of new friends and was really sad to leave. Atkins offered me a graduate job once I had completed my course, so I was able to concentrate on University. It changed the way I worked and I exceeded my expected grades. I really recommend doing a sandwich degree.

I love being an Acoustic Consultant for Atkins because of the variety of projects which require problem solving, site work, mathematics, technology and talking to people. I also get to work with a lot of other engineers and environmental specialists who are all very talented people. My job has also inspired me to volunteer as a STEM Ambassador in local schools, helping at workshops, talks, careers fairs and mock interviews. It’s very rewarding to help youngsters find out about the different types of careers they can pursue, and led me to organise STEM Ambassador induction sessions in my local Atkins offices. Last year as part of the Atkins’ 75th anniversary celebrations, I was awarded a medal for my contribution to Atkins. I was thrilled to have been nominated by my colleagues. I have also been lucky enough to work on projects abroad, including Cyprus, Ireland, and most recently Doha. I’m inspired by working in places I may never have seen, such as oil rigs in Bahrain and the World Islands in Dubai.