To mark this year’s International Women in Engineering Day, I took the opportunity to chat to my colleague Sally Fraser, Project Manager Engineering at Shoreham Port.
Originating in product design, Sally embarked on a career in the Project environment around 5 years ago that has resulted in working across a variety of disciplines. Sally told me about what led her to joining the Port’s Engineering team in January of last year, what her role entails, and reflected on her experience as a woman in engineering.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me Sally. Can you tell me about what a typical day in your role as Project Manager Engineering involves?
There’s is no typical day in this job! At the moment I’ve been part of writing grant bids towards the Government’s UK Seafood Fund Infrastructure Scheme that would enable us to make improvements to our dry dock, and we are also in the process of applying for other grants that would benefit our pioneering Green Energy Hub project. Quite a lot of administration work goes into a project before the first hammer is actually swung – it’s key to properly prepare project documentation so that we are ahead of the game when the funding does come through.
During a live project, I closely monitoring contractors to make sure that their progress is all going according to schedule. It’s really important to find out whether they are waiting on anything from our team that could stall them. I will then co-ordinate with my colleagues in our Engineering team if anything needs to be done – acting as the go between, between the contractor and the Port.
Other bits and bobs that I am getting up to at the moment are weekly calls with various different groups that have projects going on in and around the Port. We chat at least once a week to Brighton and Hove County Council and JBA Consulting who are facilitating a huge coastal protection project, and we meet with H2Green very regularly regarding the progress on the Green Energy Hub, as well as our other project partners. All projects are impactful, long term, complex and currently in the early stages – I’m excited to have a part to play in each of them.
What sparked your interest in working at Shoreham Port?
I’ve worked in the marine environment for most of my early career, and so find it quite comforting working by the sea. I learned about Shoreham Port via LinkedIn and became really interested in getting involved in Tom Willis’ vision for the Port; so when an opportunity became available, I jumped for it. I have also always enjoyed the engineering/construction-based industry and I am very keen to further my experience and knowledge, so thought the Port would be a great place to do that.
Since joining the Port team in early 2021, what has been your proudest moment at work so far?
My proudest moment so far is completing the first phase of the recent Inner Layby Terminal demolition work, on time and on budget. We continue to invest in our quayside and storage facilities, and so began a project to improve timber storage space for our customers through demolishing an old storage building that no longer suited the needs of the terminal, constraining the movement of cargo and storage maximisation.
There was a lot of different logistics to take into consideration and it took a lot of team work; despite some major changes to the project last minute we still managed to achieve the goal. This project has resulted in a huge difference to the operations on the Port, improving the cargo storage capability and making full use of the space available to us, which enables us to store the timber in a more efficient way. We are looking forward to the next phase of the project!
The theme for this year’s International Women in Engineering is ‘inventors and innovators’. Is there a particular inventor or innovator that has inspired you?
I would never profess to being a die-hard fan of 1 particular inventor as there are many very inspiring people creating many innovative products. This being said, I have always been fascinated by the Dyson hoover and further Dyson products, created by the very inspirational, James Dyson. When my mum bought home her first roller ball Dyson hoover I was intrigued by the design and movement of the product, evolving from the 1990s style of standard hoover. Perhaps the curiosity of this product lit something that then furthered my career, but I think my inspiration for creativity and functionality in Projects comes from a variety of different design styles and products, it’s so hard to choose just 1!
What would you say to young people, especially women and girls, who may be considering working within the Engineering world?
I’d say that more women in the STEM environment are definitely needed, so please follow your interest. It has been a male dominated industry, but I have often found that women’s prospective on engineering projects tend to differ from men. I believe a gender balance within the industry would create more successful projects as the different views complement each other; diversity of thought is so valuable.
What’s your favourite thing about working in our Engineering team?
Without a doubt, the best thing about working in the Shoreham Port Engineering Team is the team! Everyone in the team goes all in, is keen to get things done and has a likeminded attitude. Engineering Projects are so varied; I am constantly learning new things all the time.