Name: Lynsey Fletcher
Job Role: Engineering Geologist – Estimator
Organisation: Soil Engineering Geoservices Ltd
Education Background: BSc (Hons) Geological Sciences (Plymouth University); MSc Geohazard Assessment
- What inspired you to take up a career in the Geosciences?
I grew up in Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District and without realising it was highly influenced as a child by the natural world around me. I loved all things to do with Volcanoes and David Attenborough is my childhood hero. If I didn’t become a geologist I have been another “…ologist” like Marine Biologist or Ecologist. As long as I was outside I was a happy girl.
- Can you give more detail about your path to your current job role?
I started off in Consultancy, working for the likes of Mouchel and Atkins down South, although my role as an Engineering Geologist took me all over the UK. I completed my right of passage, travelling and living out of a bag as a graduate engineer and remember during a secondment to Network Rail working anywhere between Paddington to Penzance to Pwhelli. The best job I had was a site engineer on the 2012 Olympic Site, in Stratford where I was stationed for a number of years. I was part of a team initially supervising the ground investigation, working my way up to managing aspects of the follow on works. It was full time and full on, but a hugely satisfying project to work on. My work has always been biased to the Civil Engineering sector which at the time was where the majority of work was for Graduates. I took 5 years away from industry to raise my son before coming back to geotechnics as an Estimator. In the intervening period I worked in the education sector. As a result I am now a STEM Ambassador encouraging others into the Geosciences using the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Skills learnt a school in a different way they may not have considered before.
- What does your current job role involve?
I guess for a living! No. Seriously! I “Estimate” the cost of carrying out site investigations, pricing against industry competitors and negotiating with clients and suppliers to secure contracts. I’ve worked for the same Group for the last 4 years, recently changing departments from Specialist Geotechnics (Soil Nails, Anchors, Restricted Access Piling and Specialist Grouting) to the Site Investigation pre-construction department. I look at how much a drilling rig costs, what soil samples we need to collect and what laboratory testing is necessary to build a picture of what the ground is like beneath the surface. My company has it’s own laboratory and equipment and most if not all of my colleagues have training in the geosciences. A colleague describing my role recently said, that I am responsible for keeping everyone one else in the company employed… No pressure then!
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
No two days are the same. I see a wide variety of projects from a £5000 private development to millions of pounds infrastructure project such as HS2. I’m office bound at the moment, which for me is not so great but my company are flexible in terms of adjusted hours so that I can work around childcare arrangements. Personally I’d like to get back towards research, but for the time being I enjoy what I’m doing and work with a great crowd, on a 50% split male:female which in this industry is rare.
- Why do you think it’s important to encourage more girls into the Geosciences?
We make up 50% of the population, and are only limited in our career choices by a lack of imagination and lack of knowledge of the options available. Historically we are a small percentage of the workforce within the geosciences. I think the figures for civil engineering are something like 7% overall. From personal experience I’ve been the only “girl” in the department. However, geosciences covers a wide variety of specialist subject areas which are open to all and not all have such a dominant split.
- If you could give a piece of advice to girls currently thinking about a career in the Geosciences, what would it be?
Go for it! Don’t be put off by preconceived ideas and opinions of others. Research a course that interests you and more importantly the career options at the end of it. If the outdoors is not for you, don’t worry there are more than enough options either Lab or office based. Worried you’ll be the only female and may face prejudice. Don’t be, work for it and prove your worth and you won’t go wrong. At the end of the day if you are the right person for a job, you will get it.