Where did you study?
As an undergraduate, I studied environmental engineering at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). I also undertook a master’s degree at TUM, specialising in environmental quality and renewable energy.
What have been the high points for you in terms of your chosen career?
I am very happy working in the engineering sector, because I wanted a career that would allow me to give something back to society. I wasn’t always a happy student of engineering however. There was a point where I was about to quit my college course but, in the end, I decided not to give up. I guess a lot of students have the same experience and that’s what separates the wheat from the chaff.
What projects have you learned most from?
When I think back to when I started work on the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe dualling scheme in Northern Ireland and compare it with where I am now, I am amazed that I could learn so much in such a relatively short period of time. At the beginning, I had no idea how to use certain software tools or how management processes worked. And, with so many people involved in the scheme, many of whom I had to collaborate with, I really had to come out of my shell!
What qualities do you bring to your job?
I’m a huge video game fan and a little bit obsessed with crime novels, so solving puzzles, thinking about interdependencies, and working out the strategies that will allow you to reach your goal, are all things I like to do. These interests are a help in the engineering sector, where closing projects successfully is the primary goal.
Who is your mentor in ROD?
My mentor is John Paul Rooney, who leads the drainage team in ROD. I really appreciate his social skills and humour. He has shown me that while having technical knowledge is important, being able to communicate and look outside the box to solve problems are critical too.
What direction would you like to see your career taking?
That is a very tough question. I started out as a graduate at ROD. Two and a half years later, I am starting to understand how all the processes and tasks associated with being an engineer relate to each other and how they are important to delivering the whole package. I am learning something new every day, and I try to fit each new piece of knowledge into the bigger puzzle.
Studying for a PhD is always at the back of my mind, because I think research projects evolve society – but I also think that I could only cope with that if I was studying my true passion, which I have yet to discover.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out in her career?
My advice to anybody starting their career is be to be open, friendly (but determined) and brave. From my experience, when you are open, you learn much more easily from others and broaden your horizons. Being friendly opens more doors than the other way around. And being brave can lead you onto new paths, such as deciding to move from Germany to Ireland, one of the best decisions in my life so far!
What advice would you give to a teacher or parent hoping to encourage young people to consider engineering?
When I did some private tutoring, I noticed that some parents tend to put a lot of pressure on their children. Maths and physics are not everybody’s strength. Full stop. But if there is a genuine interest in these disciplines, I would bring them into everyday conversations in a playful way.