Caroline McKenzie – ESD

Caroline McKenzie – ESD

Caroline McKenzie is a Customer Manager at ESD and she told us about her career in civil engineering and what first attracted her to the industry.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

My background is in civil engineering and I was a project manager working for Carillion, McAlpine’s and Morrison’s before I started doing stakeholder and customer management about 6 years ago.

Can you tell us about the route you took into the industry?

My road to building a road, then a bridge, then another road, then an office block, then a water treatment plant, then a…..! I decided at school that I wanted to do something different and enjoyed hands on work, like the sciences. My cousin and Uncle were both civil engineering contractors and through being stubborn (everyone told me I couldn’t do it!) I followed in their footsteps. I also got a taste for the industry through STEM taster sessions at University.

I chose the contracting type of civil engineering degree at Uni which covered subjects such as maths, materials, structures, labs, fluid mechanics, law, communications, CAD, and surveying. I did a sandwich BSc Degree which is for 4 or 5 years with actual experience. I discovered that an engineering degree is often one of the most difficult and lengthy courses you can do! University was the best fun – lots of partying, but also lots of hard work.

I started out as a site engineer and was promoted through the levels until I became a Site Agent. After passing professional exams with the Institute of Civil Engineers, I was in charge of million-pound projects, responsible for every aspect of the site and managing dozens of staff and labourers. I have since changed direction and left the sites to take up a management role at head office.

What steps do you think we need to take as an industry to attract more women and build a more diverse workforce?

The global pandemic has shown us that agile working is a viable method of running a business and the support of line managers to enable everyone to have a more balanced work / home life is crucial. Women in particular will benefit from this new way of working and the industry should be supporting the drive away from normal office-based routines and making the workplace fit for everyone to thrive, allowing home life to thrive as well. This will, in turn, lead to a more diverse workforce.