Jayne Johnson is a senior planner and is currently working across our Utilities and Infrastructure businesses in the south west of England. Here, Jayne reveals how the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) initiative first introduced her to civil engineering and how she knew this was the career path for her. 

“At the age of 16, I found I had a natural aptitude for applied maths and the ability to understand and solve practical problems. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do but I chose maths, further maths physics and art A-Levels as they were all subjects I enjoyed. I then took part in a WISE initiative which introduced me to the world of civil engineering – and I haven’t ever looked back.

I went to Bristol university and did a BEng degree in civil engineering; it was fascinating and the more I learnt the more I knew I wanted to apply this to real life projects.

After graduating, I joined Kier and spent my first five years working as a structural civil engineer in a design office - this gave me a great foundation for a career in construction.

I was then seconded to our South West Water contract where I was able to gain invaluable site experience. I got the bug, I loved being on site and I never ever felt like being a female held me back in anyway. 

Over ten years, I was site-based and progressed from a site engineer to project Manager and my final project on site, Ottery St Mary Flood Defence Scheme, received a Considerate Constructors Gold Award. I thoroughly enjoyed my years on site, there was so much variety and ultimately this proved to be a very rewarding and fulfilling phase of my career.

In my mid 30s, I had two children and decided to go part time to have a work-life balance. Kier were supportive of this decision and knew that even though I had reduced my hours my ambitions to progress were still there.

Kier offered me a change of role to a planner, this provided me with the choice, flexibility and opportunity to once again continue with my career aspirations.

Over the last 16 years, I have worked for many different clients on a wide variety of projects developing my programming and reporting skills as well as carrying out internal training on programming and NEC contracts. Most recently, I am proud to have been at the forefront of development of “Total Project Programme Management” as part of our Environment Agency framework which brings together programmes from all the stakeholders and helps the team achieve key project milestones and proactively manage programme risk.

Now working full time again, I am currently working on Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme and the Lower Otter Restoration Project for the Environment Agency. As both these schemes are close to where I live, my role has diversified to include stakeholder management, this has added to my depth of experience and knowledge and has provided the opportunity for me to work on site once again.

I believe my journey demonstrates that careers can be tailored to allow women to progress in the construction industry whilst bringing up their children and having a healthy-work life balance.

If you have the right mentality and ambition you will succeed, find it personally rewarding and ultimately prove that you made a “WISE” decision” to join this industry.

To find out more about careers at Kier, click here.