#INWED2019 Profile: Emma Keates

Sunday 23 June 2019 is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) and to mark the occasion, meet Fusion’s Emma Keates, who took a very unconventional route into engineering and doesn’t think university is necessarily the way in.

Which town/city were you born in? Cheadle, Stoke on Trent.

Where do you live? Brierley Hill, West Midlands

What is your job title and what do you do? Utilities Co-Ordinator. I work with mostly non-contestable utility diversions, I look after the National Grid ZL (overhead lines) project, SGN’s high pressure gas main in Aylesbury and the CLH fuel pipeline diversion.

How long have you been in your field? How long have you been with Fusion? Six years working in utility-based roles and with Fusion for six months.

How would you explain your job to your son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or another child? I help to make sure everything is being thought about and will be done before the utility company go in to do their work.

Why did you decide to pursue your career? I enjoyed the technical side of understanding how utilities work and wanted to learn more.

What was your career plan to get to your job/role? What did you study?  I actually studied Illustration at university, when I graduated during the recession I couldn’t get a job. Eventually I ended up working at Balfour Beatty’s gas mains replacement project where I quickly gained an understanding of how the works took place out on-site and it really interested me.  This led to me getting a role within operations supporting the construction and site managers. I wanted to become a site manager but left for a role as a topographical and utility surveyor to get more on-site experience.

Tell us what your day-to-day work is like. I am usually working between The Lewis Building and Cornerblock, pestering people for updates which allow me to update my programmes and information for HS2 and the utility companies! Also, answering questions, sending people information and updates, arranging and attending meetings, updating reports for HS2 colleagues to review.

What do you like most about your profession? There’s always something to learn and lots of different paths to take which keeps It interesting.

What do you like most about working at Fusion? The people!

What experience/project are you proudest of? I’m still amazed by the scale of the ZL lines National Grid project I’m working on now and think it’s very cool to be a part of moving it …and for HS2!

How would you encourage future generations to pursue your profession? It’s hands on and every day is different, you can work all over the country and in different types of projects.

If someone wanted to pursue the same career as you, what would you recommend studying or doing? What should their career plan look like? I don’t think people need to go to university straight away, there are so many companies offering training and apprenticeships and I think hands on experience is underrated.

Are you planning to study/review anything in the future? I am hoping to study civil engineering soon which I think will complement working in utilities.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do during your free time? I like making crafty things and I love travelling. I’m planning a short road trip in the US later this year between Colorado and Nevada.

What book/music/series/movie/sport would you recommend? I love watching TV series and would recommend one called ‘The OA’ on Netflix.

Do you organize events/dinners or get tournaments/activities going with work colleagues? I don’t but I do try to attend them.

If you are interested in finding out more about a career in engineering, whatever your gender or backgound, please contact our Skills, Employment and Education Manager, Becky Tranter.