International Women’s Day - Meet Nada Elhariry
08 Mar 2023
Nada Elhariry, Senior Structures Engineer with National Highways, explains what first inspired her to become an engineer and her advice to those thinking about a starting a career in engineering with National Highways.
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Do you remember when you first became interested in engineering? Was there a moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do as a career?
I was attracted to creative structures and designs from a young age. This drew me to study maths and sciences in college. But it was attending an engineering careers event that revealed all the possibilities in the different types of engineering careers.
I chose civil engineering as a career path because I believed it could give me an opportunity to make a positive contribution and impact on our society, and it seemed like such a diverse discipline.
You joined the National Highways Graduate Scheme in 2014. What opportunities did this scheme give you when starting your career in engineering?
My first day as a graduate, I attended a briefing session for some of the biggest structural projects in the north-west of England. I ended up going on to work on many of these schemes, like the A57 Links Road, over many stages of their development.
Working on these huge infrastructure projects was a tremendous learning curve. I was exposed to so many new areas of civil engineering, not just the technical side. It helped me become a more well-rounded engineer.
You went on to join our Operations Team as an Engineer in 2019. How would you describe your role?
One of my current responsibilities is managing the engineering behind our A533 (M56) Expressway bridge replacement scheme. Consulting on major projects like this was a challenge at first but also a real privilege. I’ve gone on to take a leadership role in a number of bridge renewal schemes in the North West but it’s working collaboratively with others to keep our network safe that gives me the greatest sense of pride at the end of the day.
How has National Highways helped you progress and achieve your professional ambitions since joining?
I’m working towards becoming a chartered engineer with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and chartered manager through taking part in the Roads Academy Step Up to Leadership Programme. As a part of my training, I was able to undertake external secondments. My first secondment was in Parsons Brinkerhoff PB (currently WSP BP) in their bridges team, which helped me gain experience working on technical structures. My second secondment was in Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonalds (BBMM) roads integrated team. This secondment really helped me understand my current role in Operations at National Highways.
Recent industry research shows that 83.5% of engineers are male and only 7.8% are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME). How do you think the industry can promote diversity and inclusion in the engineering sector?
There are many ways the industry can better promote diversity and inclusion in engineering. It’s important organisations like National Highways take a leadership role in challenging and changing mindsets. I’ve already seen a lot of positive work in this area. I notice more diversity in the new generation entering the industry, which is really promising.
Why should someone consider a career in engineering with National Highways?
I believe that there has never been a better time to join National Highways. The organisation is evolving to be an intelligent client and world leading in areas such as carbon management. The civil engineering programme gives opportunities to explore different areas of the business, which is a great way of developing yourself into a well-rounded professional.
For students at school, college or university, considering this career path, what would your advice be?
Getting good grades is very important. But it’s not enough in its own. During my time at university, I took part in activities that helped my personal development and I’d say this has been key in my professional success. Seeking work experiences through summer placement, year in industry placements or volunteering will give you a head start when it comes to your career journey.
National Highways is looking for the very best talent to work with us.
Our roles range from accountants to traffic officers, and engineers to project managers. We have graduate schemes, placements and apprenticeships open to all.
Want to find out more? Visit our National Highways Careers website.