Introducing our Glasgow Directors: Isla Jackson
Isla, it’s great to have you on the team! Tell us a bit about yourself…
I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1999 before travelling for a year around Australia and South East Asia. My first engineering role was with Thomason’s in Guildford as a Graduate Engineer where I spent 5 years before moving back to Glasgow to take up a role with Halcrow. I achieved chartered engineering status in 2007, before taking on a year’s secondment to work with HY in Toronto where I worked on high-rise projects being constructed in the Middle East and Canary Wharf. In 2011, I took an opportunity in the oil and gas sector with McDermott in Dubai to work in their engineering office based in the fabrication yard on projects based in Saudi and India. I returned to the UK in 2013 to take up the Lead structural engineer’s role at Petrofac in Aberdeen providing support to Apache’s Forties field in the North Sea. In 2015, I made a conscious decision to get back into on-shore buildings and infrastructure projects by opening the Glasgow office. During my time in Dubai I started a 4-year MBA course distance learning via Robert Gordon University which I completed in December 2016.
1. What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
I like collaborating with the different disciplines to come up with optimum design solutions and I also enjoy mentoring young people and passing on my enthusiasm for the industry. Watching construction projects progress from concept design through to the completed project is very rewarding.
2. What’s the newest, freshest approach you are bringing to you role as a Director?
When I became Chartered I felt I had achieved what I needed to technically but was keen to develop my business skills, so I decided to take on an MBA in my own time. I feel this has reinforced my belief that being an effective leader is not about command and control, but empowerment and engagement. I aim to lead the Glasgow team in this way to be as successful as the other civic teams.
3. What is your favourite project you’ve worked on?
The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and Emirates Arena project was great to be involved with. Being part of the team designing this iconic piece of infrastructure at the centre of the 2014 commonwealth games which has left a positive legacy for the city. My favourite types of project to work on are the ones that transform previously neglected areas of the city, either from the development of iconic buildings or giving them a sense of place.
4. Do you have advice to offer women who are aspiring to become engineers?
A Good engineer is not based on gender. I would say to women don’t expect to be treated any differently, be strong but fair. Stand up for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Civic Engineers are making a conscious effort to have a gender balance with a 72/28 split male to female. But it’s not about positive discrimination it’s about finding the best person for the job. Having diversity at the strategic level of a company better reflects society and studies indicate this has a positive impact on culture and financial performance. The industry has moved forward significantly and there are exciting roles for both men and women who want to be challenged.
5. What’s the thing you’re most looking forward to about now you’re part of Civic Engineers’?
I’m looking forward to working with enthusiastic and talented people, developing the Glasgow studio into a strong, sustainable part of Civic Engineers. I’m looking forward to getting involved with projects that push the boundaries in order to improve our towns and cities.