From roundabouts to roadworks, and ponds to pedestrian areas, I’ve helped to deliver them all.
Hi, I’m Siobhan Barr, a chartered senior quantity surveyor from Skanska, a leading construction company and developer. Today I am blogging about the role I play as a woman in engineering as part of International Women in Engineering Day.
With a degree in mechanical engineering design, plus an MSc in quantity surveying, people say I’m good with numbers. I’m also highly organised, confident in dealing with different people and able to simplify complex information.
I’m currently working on Project Wellesley, a two-part Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) scheme. The first part is building a world-class tri-services training facility for military personnel at Worthy Down in Winchester. This includes delivering a college, recreational facilities and accommodation. The second part is creating Mindenhurst – a new community development being built on the site of the Princess Royal Barracks in Deepcut, Surrey. The schemes will help MOD to rationalise its estate and improve its training provision.
At the moment, I’m focusing on Mindenhurst, where, on completion, the transformed area will include 1,200 homes, a school, a refurbished church, new roads, acres of green space and lots of other facilities.
I’m proud of how our team of construction and development experts, subcontractors and designers create solutions to improve communities. I’ve worked on several schemes, including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which go beyond just building, to become projects that make a real positive contribution to society. I know that Mindenhurst will too.
I manage ‘packages’ within the main project, with the aim of saving money and time for DIO. This means looking after the subcontractor appointments that help us create features that form part of the new neighbourhood.
Alongside pulling on my boots and walking the site to check on progress with the team, I track all costs and provide accurate financial information to the Skanska project leadership team. I also help to monitor any contractual risks and potential programme slippage (where works could overrun), so good analytical skills and forensic attention to detail are very handy! It can be a pressurised role due to deadlines, but it’s essential to keep the project running smoothly.
I believe that being a woman in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry enables me to provide an alternative perspective and stand out from the crowd. For me, acknowledging and encouraging diversity across the board is really important. Everyone brings different perspectives to the table – whether that’s because of their gender, age, race or disability – and all of that helps us to find better ways to deliver projects.
I hope my blog inspires and encourages women to choose a career in engineering. Working on projects with DIO has provided me with some unique and exciting opportunities and it could for you too.