Lucy Nightingale is an engineer at Kier Highways and the vice chair for the CIHT East Midlands Region Committee. Here, she discusses her journey into the world of engineering and the challenges she has conquered to be where she is today.
“I am a 30-something year old who lives with my partner and cat, Domino, in a leafy village in Nottinghamshire. When I was younger my ambitions included being an archaeologist in Egypt or alternatively, owning and working in a sandwich shop at the seaside.
I sometimes still fantasize about the second ambition when my day job gets a bit stressful, but don’t we all? But I do genuinely enjoy my work. I’ve working in the construction industry since I was 16, making it through the recession and ultimately ending up in highways.
I suffered with low confidence and imposter syndrome through most of my early 20s, only being brave enough to undertake a part-time degree in civil engineering in my late 20s, despite being a practised engineer for many years prior.
My degree was my turning point mentally. On graduation, I received the Professor John Pike Award for Women in Civil Engineering for Outstanding Contribution & Achievement. It made me think that I might an okay engineer who was providing some value to my new employer, Kier, who had taken me on and supported me during my degree.
1.5 years after graduation, I submitted my portfolio of evidence for Incorporated Engineer (IEng) through the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) and I was awarded the professional qualification in 2019, also receiving another award for Outstanding Performance at Professional Review. I was amazed to have received this recognition and it almost didn’t compute in my mind – how could anyone think I was outstanding compared to all the other applicants that went through that summer?
But those thoughts haven’t continued to deter me. My dad has always encouraged me to never stop learning and developing throughout life, and as I have achieved one thing after another I am always thinking about the next goal. So, my next goal is to move into management.
I was lucky enough to be encouraged by Kier to attend a 2.5-year part-time Level 5 qualification in Operations Management led by the Roads Academy and Coventry University.
In the period since graduating and working towards my IEng, I had joined the CIHT and became a volunteer officer on the East Midlands Region Committee. I did a three-year term as honorary secretary and this year I was elected as vice chair. I am now following in the footsteps of Dr Sally Barnett who was elected this year as the first chairwoman of the East Midlands Committee since the institution began in 1930. So together we are making history as the first female chair and first all-female leadership team.
My motivation behind joining the committee stems from my genuine love of the industry and my job. I want to share this passion and inspire and support others in any way I can. My work on the committee is about supporting its members such as through technical CPD events, workshops, mentoring etc. I have also been a long-standing STEM Ambassador and I love showing the younger generation that diversity is important for successful teams.
I hope that this very brief history of my career inspires someone just a little bit to get out of their comfort zone and do something that they wanted to do but were lacking in confidence and self-belief. Let’s continue making history together!”
Lucy will be attending a CIHT Roundtable event on 1 July which will focus on ‘Breaking Down Barrier to Innovation – A View from The Next Generation’. Members will discuss questions such as “What should we as a profession do more of?” and “What does it take for innovation to thrive?”.