Melanie OgdenI am a Chartered Civil Engineer and “Project Manager for Tunnels and Shafts” on the prestigious £1bn Northern Line Extension project in the heart of the capital. All eyes are upon us, as this is a project spanning three borough councils, uniquely funded and employing some of the latest technologies available to deliver value to the public purse.

It is my role to ensure the steady and successful progress of the project, and whilst that requires technical knowledge, the key skill is to actively manage the stakeholder interface with project’s many third parties. These include the Battersea Power Station Developers, Network Rail and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – plus our project delivery partners who have a large and mature project management architecture of their own. To achieve this, I lead a talented multi-disciplinary team of Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Planners, Graduates and other key stakeholders.

I am responsible for the design and construction of 3.2km of twin-bored and SCL tunnels and shafts. I also have responsibility for the £40m design and build work package for two new step plate junctions and four new cross passages at Kennington Station, connecting the new extension to the existing Northern line railway and managing the subsequent increase in passenger flows through the station. I act as the seamless link between railways systems engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering for these works, ensuring all aspects have been considered from design through to operation and maintenance. I am responsible for establishing an acceptable closure strategy to undertake the work, balancing the needs of the project with those of the travelling public. I have consulted with stakeholders throughout the business alongside the Principal Contractor and project team to establish the most effective way of completing this. It is my options paper which has been presented to the business.

As a young woman who has come from a small town in the country to work in Engineering in our incredible city, I am inspired every day by engineering around me which most people take for granted and the fantastic engineers with whom I have the privilege of working every single day. My passion and enthusiasm for the built environment means that I have always wanted to get out from behind my desk and see society transformed – and I feel that is a much more tangible and inspiring message for young people considering engineering.

I try to live my life with integrity and make the best decisions for my project within my professional abilities. I am keen to show young women and men that they have a world of choices open to them in engineering, that there are many routes into the industry and that their dreams can be fulfilled. I had a relatively tough start to my time in senior school and struggled academically, not always getting the best grades, but sheer determination has brought me ample success and the respect of my peers.

I love speaking in public and I love seeing children’s faces light up when I explain the possibilities offered by an engineering career: a career where you have freedom, the chance to work internationally, to join fantastic professional teams which feel like your family and to leave a built legacy which you would be proud to show your grandchildren.

My passion for my trade shines through in all I do, including the work I have done this year as an IET ambassador for their ‘Engineer a Better World’ campaign. This included giving media interviews, something I absolutely love. Equally, I am not afraid to let my professional mask drop in the name of engineering, appearing in the ICE “Engineering Happiness” film dancing under the Hammersmith Flyover, (one of my first projects after graduation).

I want children to see engineering as an enjoyable career with plenty of support: I always tell children that going to work is like visiting my second family. In my first year in London, I mentored a young student; this experience taught me so much, in particular that younger people often just need the confidence to tackle a profession; confidence which may not exist in the family home. I want to be the person who bridges that gap and inspires them into our profession.