Read about what a day in the life of our talented women engineers looks like as we celebrate their achievements and contributions.
A day in the life of Jojo Sadipe – UK
Project Engineer, London
7:00 AM: I finally get up after snoozing for about 30 minutes and get ready for work. I spend some time having a quiet moment with God to get me on track for the day. If there are any left-overs from yesterday I make a lunch pack. Breakfast is always at the office – my stomach is not open for business until about 8:30am.
9:00 AM: I get into work and settle into a bowl of oats and a cup of tea while checking my emails and trying to formulate a plan of attack for the day (which I hardly stick to… I wonder why I bother!).
9:30 AM: I usually handle design team/contractor queries and technical submittals for Wedge House, Summit House and Notcutt House which are all going through tendering or construction stages – If I don’t do them now, I hardly get to do them during the course of the day because I would be designing. Then my mechanical colleague walks up to me asking me to respond to a ‘few’ urgent tech subs/RFIs for an electrical colleague who is on leave. ‘It should only take 10 mins’ he says – and there goes 1.5 unplanned hours – you see why I can’t stick to my schedule.
12:30PM: It is lunchtime but having just had breakfast only three hours ago, I decide to take a prayer walk to the Regent’s canal – by the time I get back to the office, I have worked up an appetite for lunch.
1:30 PM: It is time to start working on my main design project – a state of the art 9-storey office building for an international client (unfortunately I can’t give names now because of an NDA). I have to chase down the external consultants to understand what their power requirements and where all their equipments go so I can engineer a power solution for it. I spend time going through their documentation and realise there is a 150kW uplift in the power requirement from their stage 3 documentation. I need to review my maximum demand calculations and flag this up with the design team for review.
3:30 PM: I get an email from the Architect informing me that the layout for the open plan office space has changed following their client’s presentation – so my design has to change. I am learning to draft in Revit, so all my blood and sweat in the last 2 hours has just gone down the drain. At this point, I decide it is more efficient use of my time to do bluebeam mark-ups for the Revit technicians than spend the rest of my day trying to do it myself.
5:00 PM: Technically it is time to go home but I still have another hour and a half to go. I like to end things properly every day so I can move on to something new the next day. At this point half the office has left or is preparing to leave so it is less distractions and I can just zone out over the next hour and a half finalising my mark-ups and responding to emails.
6:30 PM: I am ready to leave the office, depending on what day it is I am either heading home or going to church for a midweek service or going to see my nephew before he goes to bed at 8pm. Whatever I do I should be home by 10:30pm latest.
A day in the life of Haley Miller – Vancouver
Project Consultant (Graduate), Vancouver
I should preface this article by pointing out that I have been working in this industry for less than 2 weeks, so my experiences are mainly academic. I hesitated to contribute to this article, believing that my experiences were less valuable than those of a more seasoned engineer, but perhaps I can offer some fresh insight into the transition from student to professional.
Just to provide some context, I recently graduated as one of the 20% of Canadian students enrolled in engineering who are female, so I am intimately familiar with being outnumbered in a classroom. As a new hire straight from the convocation stage, my days are typically spent shadowing senior members of our design teams, learning the new Revit and AutoCAD software, sitting in on training workshops, and performing day-to-day activities for senior designers. I ask a lot of questions, and take notes of the answers, trying to recall all of Sheryl Sandberg’s lessons from Lean In and avoid making a professional faux pa.
A typical day breaks down as follows:
I usually wake up around 7am and pour myself a cup of coffee, flick on CBC and listen to the news while I get ready for the day. About three times a week I get up at 6am and head out for a run in my neighbourhood, but my coffee schedule is always consistent. I then eat breakfast, pack a lunch for the day and leave for the office just before 8am. I take the SkyTrain to VCC station and walk the rest of the way to work. On a nice day, the walk to and from work is my favourite part of the day.
I get into the office at about 8:15am each morning. Recently my workspace has been bouncing around the office each day, so I usually just set up at whichever desk I was working in the day before – until one of the PMs moves me elsewhere. If I have some time before my supervisor of the day arrives, I usually practice the skills that I learned the previous day or review my notes. Otherwise, we get right into the day’s work where I learn new practices and concepts. These early days have been particularly fast and full of new information for me to review and practice.
Typically, I take a lunch break between 12-12:30pm, depending on the flow of the day. I usually sit in the lunch space of the office and keep score for a darts game, or just socialize with the designers.
I spent this past week with Energy Modelling, so after lunch I report back to my supervisor for an assignment. Usually I am given day-to-day tasks to help me practice using software and getting familiar with LEED and ASHRAE Standards in a low risk environment.
My time after work has lately been as busy as my work-day. Having recently moved into a new apartment, I am usually busy with moving maintenance, grocery shopping and reorganizing. I usually aim to have dinner prepared by 7:30pm, then I shower, answer emails, and have some downtime before going to bed.
A day in the life of Hayley Wardrop – Melbourne
Director – Education, Melbourne
Generally I try to get up around 6:00am and join my husband exercising. I train to work where I tend to check up on the planning for my day. I generally arrive at work just after 8:00am.
Every day is different but I usually have internal meetings in the morning which I like to attend. I spend a lot of time out of the office with clients or working with architects and project managers or even universities to find out what they are doing or will be planning in future. My role encompasses business development, project leadership, financial overview of the Melbourne office, guidance to my direct reports and mentoring, so there is a fine balance to wearing the many hats.
Lunch varies depending on whether I am in the office or out and about but I generally try to keep it healthy.
Again, my afternoons vary greatly from meetings, to catch-ups, project leadership or other activities.
My husband, a school teacher, often will arrive home before I do, but we generally alternate making dinner and try to relax or catch up with friends.
Sometimes I do take home with me, for example, working with staff who are in different time zones, such as a current project where the Engineer working in Perth will finish something at 7:00pm which then allows me to continue to work on whatever needs to be completed.
I love the variety of my role and my biggest challenge is to find the time to fit everything I want to achieve into my day!
A day in the life of Anita Milne – Auckland
Senior Associate – Mechanical Engineering & Sustainability, New Zealand
I usually wake just before 7:00am and am trying to get out 2-3 times a week for a half hour morning run with my 13 year old daughter.
My partner and I have two teenagers so we have an alternating system for the days – one of us supervises the morning chaos while the other has the dinner responsibilities and switch it up the next day. Supervising kitchen / bathroom time in the mornings is always a challenge (teenagers!), and putting away the cheese / butter / ham that the kids leave out is a regular frustration, but as long as I’ve got my morning cereal fix before driving or cycling in to work, I’m happy.
What time I arrive at work depends on which day it is, hopefully by 8am on the earlier start days, and not until 9.30 or so if I’ve been on morning duty at home. The caffeine fix is always first on the agenda (if not already consumed on the way into the office) and then it’s juggling meetings / emails / project work and making sure I’m across whatever is on that day.
Mid Morning? It normally passes on by at some point.
Lunch is typically at my desk, a home-made sandwich or last night’s leftovers when I’m being good. Otherwise I venture out to pick something up from one of the cafes / food outlets nearby. They knocked down the Downtown Shopping Centre across the road last year, taking away my easy option of grabbing lunch from the foodcourt. Fortunately there’s a temporary Pita Pit in a shipping container on the podium level of our building and that tends to be my lazy go to. Taking a proper lunch break doesn’t happen very often, bad habits formed from way back when I was trying to squeeze the workday in between daycare drop-offs & pick-ups (as other parents will know – they make you pay extra if you’re late).
Sometime in the afternoon I’ll pull out my plunge pot to fix up my afternoon caffeine hit (another habit I’m trying to break), and typically head off around the office to catch up with various colleagues on project work. A little too often this does result in my leaving a half cup of coffee behind on someone’s desk….. The end of the day depends on what’s on, I head off at 4.30ish on the evening that my daughter has a netball game, while the following night I’ll be at my desk until 6.30-7pm, normally enjoying the peace and quiet that you get at the end of the day.
The evenings are coordinated around ballet lessons, soccer training and netball games – on a good week there’ll be some overlap so we’ll get one evening off. My partner and I share the drop-off / pick-up duties and take turns with dinner which might not be until 8-8.30pm some nights. We’re hooked on My Foodbag – one of the many options where all the ingredients and recipes are delivered at the start of the week. Fantastic for those of us who are un-inspired in the kitchen. We try and get the kids to help out one night a week, and recently my daughter has been flying solo with the cooking – though generally only when it’s Mexican inspired meal. After dinner there’s the usual arguments about who’s washing / drying; which we supervise from our position on the couch; and by 9.30pm I’ve normally nagged my son out of the lounge so we get a least one hour of downtime before bed.
A day in the life of Hannah George – Perth
Senior Associate – ICT & Security, Perth
Hannah joined the NDY team ten years ago, and after working for four years in the London office, moved to Perth specifically to work on the Perth Children’s Hospital.
I have a 15 month old baby girl so I am usually up around 6:30am. On the train into work I check social media before arriving to work. The first thing I do at my work desk is check emails then focus on the day, catch-up with clients, shuffle my ‘to do’ list – things vary every day. For the past few weeks, life have been a little different as I’m currently wearing a moon boot! I broke my ankle playing soccer so I’m looking forward to the boot’s removal.
Mornings usually consist of client meetings, explaining designs, working with consultants such as architects plus researching new ways of doing things and general ‘churn’. Occasionally there is a site inspection as well.
Normally I make sure eat lunch (it ensures I am going to be nice to my colleagues not being on an empty stomach!). We are lucky in the NDY office to have a ‘club-style’ tearoom where it is lovely to sit and enjoy half an hour with my own thoughts.
One of the attractions of working at NDY for me was the ability to interact with people. After I’ve cleared my desk of important work matters, I provide advise to clients on our costs or our services. At the moment I am helping a client (builder) so there is a lot of interaction and catch-ups. I also share emails with my Virtual Team regarding information and ideas on products and matters regarding our industry; there’s always room for a bit of team building, or I’ll enjoy researching or reading a journal or something inspirational.
I usually finish work around 6:00pm; two nights a week there is training to attend. I’ll usually wind down around 9/9:30pm and read a few chapters of ‘Game of Thrones.