Sunday 23 June 2019 is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) and to mark the occasion, meet Fusion’s Sandra Elvira, who describes her role as being like something out of an Indiana Jones movie!
Which town/city were you born in? Madrid, Spain.
Where do you live? Birmingham.
What is your job title and what do you do? I am the Project Manager for the Historic Environment Research and Delivery Strategy (HERDS) in the HS2 Project – Area Central. In simple words, I am responsible for the delivery of 100km of the largest archaeology programme ever undertaken in the UK and in Europe.
How long have you been in your field and with Fusion? I have worked as a Geotechnical Engineer for nine years, seven of those with Ferrovial in major construction projects in UK. I have progressed to my current role as Project Manager which I have performed for the last two years at Fusion.
How would you explain your job to your son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or another child? I would probably say I am Indiana Jones’ colleague and I help him to find buried treasures and mummies, making sure he does so safely without hurting himself or the team, efficiently without overspending his money, and on time before a railway is constructed over the treasures and they are no longer retrievable!
Why did you decide to pursue your career? I didn’t actually pursue my career, I think I just fell into it…but luckily enough it meets my career aspirations so far and I am really enjoying the learning curve.
What was your career plan to get to your job/role? What did you study? I studied a MSc degree in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics and jumped into the professional world without a clear career plan.
Tell us what your day-to-day work is like. Meetings, meetings and more meetings, with plenty of emails, I like squeezing a mid-morning coffee with colleagues whenever I can. I usually make the most of the day during the final hours when the office is quiet and I can focus on desk-based work.
What do you like most about your profession? I am a person that enjoys decision making and driving programmes of work, but what I really enjoy as a Project Manager in Fusion is leading a team with members from very different disciplines, all with their own project drivers and needs.
What do you like most about working at Fusion? Feeling like I belong to a big family.
What experience/project are you proudest of? I would say Crossrail: it gave me a head start into the UK construction industry. It is an opportunity that I am still grateful for to this day.
How would you encourage future generations to pursue your profession? There are many different routes into the construction industry.
If someone wanted to pursue the same career as you, what would you recommend studying or doing? What should their career plan look like? Probably the easiest and most common thing to say is to study a degree in civil engineering and complement it with a Masters in Commercial or Project Management but I don’t think that’s enough nowadays. There is a lot of competition with plenty of really well-prepared, competent professionals in the market. While recruiting I noticed that what I really looked for were candidates with the right attitude and values.
Are you planning to study/review anything in the future? I would like to learn a third language, and become a Chartered Engineer with the Institute while I finish my second degree, in Mechanical Engineering.
What book/music/series/movie/sport would you recommend? I have recently watched a series called ‘Chernobyl about the nuclear disaster from the 80s.
Do you organize events/dinners or get tournaments/activities going with work colleagues? We socialize quite a lot on weekends, but unfortunately some of my colleagues have become friends and have now left Birmingham. To fill this gap I am arranging a Cuban party at home.
If you are interested in finding out more about a career in engineering, whatever your gender or background, please contact our Skills, Employment and Education Manager, Becky Tranter.