Decision making, problem solving, and teamwork

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Gita and currently I live in Preston, Lancashire. I graduated with a MEng (Hons) Civil and Structural Engineering in 2018 from The University of Manchester. I now work as Civil Engineer for Costain Group PLC. My work involves engineering duties in construction projects, such as setting out and levelling, devising construction methods and programme, and most importantly, leading continuous improvement in health and safety on site.

How are decision making, problem solving, and teamwork important in your current role?

My work involves working with different site trades. It is important to play my role as part of the team, to ensure that we are working towards the same goal. I am grateful to have skilled forepersons and site operatives in my team, so I have a duty to ensure that they have correct information, material, and equipment to deliver the job on the ground.

Throughout my career, I have encountered different issues on site, such as missing design information, as well as ground and weather conditions. There is no such thing as two identical construction projects, hence each problem that I encounter on site is unique. Having the skills to solve engineering problems is important to ensure successful delivery of works on site, by minimising delays whilst not compromising health and safety of site workers and members of public. Having this skill is what makes me confident to make decisions on site; my team can only put their trust on me if I can do so.

How did you develop each of these skills during your degree?

Whilst undertaking a Project Management module as part of my degree, I was allocated to a group of five peers. At the beginning of the module, each of us had to take the Belbin questionnaire to understand what roles and tasks suit us the best. I believe this is a crucial approach to teamwork.

I have also developed problem solving and decision making skills through my third year individual project. I enjoyed this because I had the opportunity to explore my field of interest outside of lecture hours, and it also encouraged me to approach engineering problems through organised steps, i.e. collecting data and listing assumptions before deciding on the solution to be implemented.

How did these skills help you get your first graduate job?

Whilst attending an assessment centre for my first graduate job, I was asked to work in a team to form stakeholder analysis of a railway project. By understanding each of team members' experience, I was able to collect a wide range of information for the analysis and successfully present it to the board.

During the interview for the same role, I had to analyse a site accident that I was not familiar with. However, the interviewers appreciated how I was able to gather information through available drawings and make sense of possible reasons why the accident occurred. My ability to solve problems was key to this.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of first graduate job?

I decided to work at a construction company because I want to make the most of learning by getting experience. In my current role, I spend a lot of my time on site which gives me opportunity to witness design being built into reality. I also chose a career that allows me to travel. So far, I have been involved in the construction of railway sidings, wastewater treatment works, and a new dual carriageway road - all in different parts of the UK!