Amy Gaughan is an assistant project manager within our Utilities business at Kier. Here, Amy explains how a passion for physics and maths resulted in pursuing a career within the built environment.
“I’m often asked if I knew from a young age that I wanted to work within the built environment. The answer is no. I was keen to pursue maths and physics as I really enjoyed studying them, but I also wanted an element of creativity within my job and I didn’t think this was something that construction offered.
However, after spending time with a number of family members who worked in the sector, I soon realised how wrong I was and that actually it could be the industry for me. I started looking in to options whilst studying for my GCSEs and I took part in a number of engineering workshops and courses, including an introductory week to engineering at Queen Mary University London.
I also joined the Engineering Education Scheme, a six-month programme, where I worked with other students to solve a problem. Our team had to provide a solution for an engineering company, whereby we had to supply solar energy to 40 houses. This allowed me to utilise my skills in maths and physics that I had learnt in the classroom and applying them to a real-life problem.
Courses like these were a revelation. I attended an all-girls school and there were only six of us taking physics, the smallest class run by the school, so this real-world exposure was fantastic for us. We were better equipped to understand how important physics was for so many industries and also understanding the breadth of careers available.
I decided to study Civil Engineering at City University London which was brilliant and cemented my interest in the built environment. I applied for the civil engineering graduate scheme at McNicholas (since acquired by Kier) as it involved a rotational placement in each areas of the business that it operated.
I was thrilled to be selected for the scheme and from that point onwards there was no looking back. I currently work on rail contracts within the Utilities arm of Kier, this includes those under CP5 – our contract with Network Rail, Distribution Network Operator supplies and earth farms.
My role involves managing a project from a commercial aspect, site aspect and client aspect, to make sure we are meeting our ambitions. I enjoy overseeing a project from conception to completion, working closely with the client to maintain good working relationships and completing items to programme.
What I love about working at Kier, and within the construction industry, is that it is ever evolving. Every day is different and there are so many opportunities that you can grasp – if you want to.
Now I know what this industry has to offer, I am passionate about inspiring and encouraging more women get involved. I am part of STEMettes, a nationwide initiative designed to highlight STEM careers to young women and girls, through free, fun and food filled meetings. Initiatives like this, are absolutely critical to changing perceptions and creating more diverse workforces.
Last year, I was nominated for a Rising Star Awards, a set of annual awards within Kier. This nomination came from a colleague, to think others can see the difference I am making, was a very proud moment.
I have now completed my Masters Degree in Construction Management (MSc) and I intend to further progress my chartership with the ICE (Institute of Civil Engineers). My longer-term ambition is to be a project or construction manager.
For anyone currently considering a career within the built environment, I would say explore, explore, explore – it really is the only way to find out more. Take part in courses, try and secure some work experience and ask others about their experiences. It’s a hugely fulfilling, interesting and dynamic industry and I really hope more people will consider a career within it.”
For more information about the Utilities business at Kier, click here.