Paula McMahon

Civil Engineer, 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


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  • 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 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

  • What is your proudest achievement 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. Download them here (

  • What are the best and worst things about your job?

    I love that I have a large team to manage as this brings lots of challenges and variation to my day. I am also trusted to make decisions on how I would like to manage the team and continuously develop them.
    The worst is the targets being changed with little warning which puts myself and the team under extra pressure.”

  • What is your involvement with the Women's Engineering Society?

    I am a WES Fellow and I regularly attend my clusters meetings. We also put on events about engineering that people can watch.
    By being involved with groups that share interests you can all help each other.

  • What was your route into engineering?

    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.