Beckie Claytor, Associate, Operations and Safety, Intelligent Transport Services, WSP MCIHT
What initiated your interest in Diversity and Inclusion?
Having worked in the sector since the age of 19, not from the traditional graduate entry level and in an operational role that was predominantly a male environment, I have learnt a lot about diversity and inclusion. Whereas I don’t feel my age or gender have hindered my career, I have seen it be a barrier for others and have felt the need to do something about it.
Having worked in the sector for over a decade, what changes relating to D&I have you seen take place?
For me there has been a real shift in focus on D&I in the sector over the last decade. The statistics however are still staggering. Only around 11% of our industry are female, only 8% are of black and ethnic minority (BAME) origin, and 2% are disabled people. Furthermore, over half the workforce are eligible for retirement in the next 10 years. This highlights that there is an untapped resource pool which need organisations to think differently about how they recruit, what flexibility they offer and what opportunities they provide.
As a Wellbeing Champion and Mental Health First Aider at WSP, I am often sighted on issues staff members face with D&I. The biggest change I have witnessed is that people are more open to coming forward with any issues and that organisations are starting to sit up and listen. There are also more networking opportunities for support and advice.
An example of where I have been able to make an impact since joining WSP is through working closely with our senior leadership team, HR Business Partner, Wellbeing Manager and Wellbeing Champions to redesign the flexible working guidance. This has raised awareness of the benefits flexible working can bring to the business such as agile working and recruitment/retention and benefits to individuals, with added case studies and statistics to bring this to life.
WSP is a CIHT Gold Corporate Partner and signatory to CIHT’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter. What would you say to other organisations about the benefits of supporting D&I and how does it positively affect business?
It’s important to make a conscious, informed commitment to support equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at work. Unconscious biases have the potential to cause barriers to creating a diverse workplace, for example, in recruitment, performance management and working in teams. Real inclusion means encouraging and supporting people with varying backgrounds and experiences to fulfil their potential. It’s about providing a professional and fair working environment where colleagues are treated with dignity and respect. We also recognise that creating an inclusive culture leads to greater innovation, productivity and financial returns. By creating a stimulating, respectful, safe, and enlightened work environment, organisations will attract and retain talented people.
Lastly, in terms of your CIHT membership, what prompted you to join CIHT and what do you value most about your membership?
I have recently joined CIHT as I believe it is a fantastic platform to network with professional like-minded individuals, who not only want to come in and do their day job, but want to make the work environment a better place for others and an attractive one for future generations. As a recognised membership organisation it provides an outward facing statement of your position within the industry and is likely to attract others to collaborate with you in the future.
Chandra Mouli Vemury
Chandra Vemury is the North East & Cumbria (NE&C) Regional Representative on the CIHT Council. He did his CEng via CIHT and started his own design consultancy in 2017. He is committed to championing diversity and inclusion.
My name is Chandra Mouli Vemury (generally addressed as Chandra) and I am the North East & Cumbria (NE&C) Regional Representative at the CIHT Council. I also serve on the NE&C committee of the institution. It gives me a great sense of pride knowing that the institution does a phenomenal job in bringing a diverse array of individuals and organisations under one umbrella to create, build and maintain a body of transport resources that meets the present as well the future needs of the UK.
I read Civil Engineering within the auspices of Osmania University in Hyderabad, India and then specialised in Structural Engineering at masters level at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Having worked in academia for much of my career, I established a design consultancy in Newcastle during September 2017. The process of becoming a chartered engineer through the CIHT has helped me finetune my skills and attributes as an engineer. Always an academic at heart, I still deliver lectures at HE/FE institutions based in the UK.
Sensitivity towards several pressing, socio-environmental concerns influences my mental landscape. It deeply upsets me that we, the humankind, consume a disproportionate share of this generous planet’s resources. Desirous of contributing actively towards the redressal of the situation, I joined a systems-driven, sustainability thinktank called ‘The Schumacher Institute (TSI)’. Colleagues at TSI represent a cross-section of the society and do contribute towards developing and promoting measures that guard the wellbeing of all occupants of this third rock from the sun!
My preoccupation on societal issues has led me to engage with various organisations over the years. In 2015, I joined the board of an inspirational human rights charity called Journey to Justice (JtoJ) and worked with colleagues in delivering art-based educational events and programmes that challenge prejudice and promote equality. Through my membership on their Athena SWAN committees, I supported two of my previous employers (Newcastle University and Teesside University (TU)) in critically appraising the diversity and inclusivity facets of these prestigious institutions. During 2017 and 2018, I was a part of the respective organising committees that planned and coordinated Teesside University’s International Womens Day events.
Discrimination of individuals, whether on grounds of gender, sexuality, race and religion or any other signifying factor, cannot fully be addressed simply by introducing changes in legislation and through appeals to the rational element of the human psyche. In my opinion, there are four emotive items that should be a part of everyday conversation in every family, community and institution.
These emotive items are:
A – Acceptance of every person irrespective of the narrative of their life
B – Bravery to call out discrimination at the slightest hint
C – Compassion towards all
D – Dignity of every individual to be preserved no matter what physical, mental, social
and economic characteristics they represent.
I make no claims of being a prejudice-free person! I have, however, made a commitment to live a considered and reflective life and support all in bringing down the barriers!
With #journeys, we’re sharing stories about how CIHT helps highways and transport professionals go further and faster in their careers.
From valuable networking to first female Northern Ireland Chair, read how joining CIHT allowed Louise to give something back to the next generation
I graduated from Queens University Belfast with a BEng in Civil Engineering. My first job, working for the Roads Authority in Northern Ireland involved designing traffic management and road safety schemes. I knew quite quickly that my passion was local transport and my career has progressed into transport planning and project management. I moved to London shortly after and had the fantastic opportunity to be a part of the core team that introduced the central London Congestion Charging Scheme in 2003. I’m not sure where I got the time but I also studied part time for a MSc in Transport from Imperial College London.
Since moving back to Belfast and joining Atkins Limited in 2004, I’ve enjoyed a varied career and have been lucky to be involved in some hugely interesting projects both in Northern Ireland as well as across the UK, specialising in major business case development, public transport and bus rapid transit. I’ve recently moved into the area of business development, as part of our Transportation Win Work team, helping to manage and co-ordinate our strategic opportunities and tenders. My job takes me all over the UK and I get the opportunity to meet and work with a wide range of people.
The CIHT has been an integral part of my professional life and I have been a member for over 21 years. I first joined as a student as a way of obtaining CPD and meeting like-minded professionals and then later becoming Chartered in 2006. I joined the local CIHT committee for Northern Ireland soon after as a way of extending my professional network. I have been involved in promoting the Institution, and careers in highways and transport to young professionals, students and school children. I was delighted to win the CIHT Young Professional of the Year in 2010 and I was elected as the region’s first ever female Chair for the 2015/16 term. I hope to use this opportunity to give something back. I am passionate about the next generation of engineers and transport planners and I believe strongly in providing opportunities for mentoring and support to enable our younger members to become professionally qualified.
From designing buildings to shaping cities, read how David began running his own consultancy
Training as an architect and urban designer was an unusual starting point for a transport consultant, but it made sense to me – streets, roads, pavements, and every other space between buildings define the buildings themselves.
As an urban designer within Transport for London, I learned how rail, bus services and highways work. Understanding a really broad spectrum of issues with transport was a great foundation for me. These are the insights that opened the door to running my own consultancy.
Right through my career I’ve never stopped learning about the relationship between “placemaking” and different modes of transport. CIHT membership – and my involvement with the Urban Design panel in particular – has been hugely important in helping me learn and develop throughout my career.
I’ve shared knowledge and ideas with CIHT peers whose backgrounds are more engineering-focused than mine, and that’s been vital in shaping my input into documents like Boris Johnson’s “Mayor’s Transport Strategy”.
Today, the insights and state of the art thinking I pick up through CIHT membership are vital to the rounded advice my consultancy offers its clients.
From college to on-the-job training, read how work experience secured Niamh's dream apprenticeship.
Whilst at college, I joined the Connect Plus Services’ (CPS) 'Get into Highways' training programme in 2014 and, on completion, was offered a two-year highway maintenance apprenticeship with CPS. I am now based at Blunts Farm depot in Essex.
The apprenticeship is a great way to train on the job and earn a wage at the same time. I believe that I am able to bring a new energy and enthusiasm to the team and in return I am surrounded by supportive colleagues who help me to develop and learn new skills.
For me, being a woman in a predominately male environment has not been a negative experience at all and I hope to see more and more women entering this exciting industry which offers a wealth of opportunities. Women are as capable in this industry as the next person and I intend to succeed.
With CPS I am able to realise my ambitions, ambitions which have been inspired by my father. This apprenticeship is a step into an industry that would otherwise have been difficult to break into and I can see a career progression within highways, one which I am keen to pursue.
Being a member of CIHT gives me access to a variety of networking and CPD events and in the future I hope to gain professional qualifications such as Engineering Technician through the Institution. The fact that membership is free whilst I am training as an apprentice is even better!
From traffic engineer to first female CIHT President, read how CIHT helped prepare Sheila for senior management roles.
My interest in transport began when I was studying geography at Bristol University where I became aware of the importance of transport and mobility to the success of cities. I started my professional life as a traffic engineer and went on to gain a Masters in Civil Engineering. As well as doing traffic management and road safety studies I became increasingly involved in traffic assessments associated with development proposals and major highway schemes. I became a chartered civil engineer in 1986 after which my career moved into management, initially as a team leader in transport planning but eventually a much wider range of services.
I also qualified as a town planner in 1994, went on to be an Assistant Director at Brighton & Hove City Council in 1996 and a Director at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead in 2002. There I was responsible for the delivery of local authority services including transport planning, highway maintenance, traffic management, planning policy, development control and waste management.
I joined CIHT in the 1980s and became involved with the then South East branch (now Region). This enabled me to network with colleagues from other organisations and widen my experience of the industry, which helped prepare me for senior management roles. I was elected to CIHT Council in 1994 and has served on various boards and committees was the first female CIHT president in 2013/14.
I am now an independent consultant providing transport and planning advice to a range of public sector clients.
From Canadian cricket to construction career, read how collaboration can drive the industry forward.
At school I didn’t apply myself and was categorised as an underachiever, upon reflection this was due to not having a clear vision of my career options.
After leaving school I worked in a local leisure centre before heading to Canada where I played cricket for a summer and, without a career plan, I was considering a profession as a sports coach.
It was not until I returned to the UK and secured a job as a trainee land surveyor on site at Costain Skanska’s A43 Silverstone Bypass project that I realised a career in construction was for me. I absolutely fell in love with the industry from the first day of being on site.
While employed in roles ranging from engineer to estimator, I studied a HNC, a HND and finally a BSc (Hons) in Construction Management over a period of six years. In 2010 I moved in to business development – the same year I joined CIHT – and have been a business development manager at Skanska since last year.
I joined the Institution because I felt like I had something to offer the industry. CIHT can bring the sector together to help to understand and address challenges in a collaborative, open platform.
Having joined the East Midland Branch committee in 2010, I was asked to be a nominated member of Council in 2011 where I served for three years. I am currently the East of England Region’s communications officer and I sit on CIHT’s Procurement and Delivery Panel.
I would encourage members to take an active role within the institution whether at a regional level, participating in training or just networking at events, because you really do get out what you put in. The industry needs to be brave, we face many challenges so use the learned society to share ideas and knowledge and make a real difference!
From a keen interest in traffic management, to becoming an internationally qualified Transport Planner, read how Tom gained significant value as a professional
I started developing a strong interest in transport planning in 2003 when I prepared an MSc dissertation relating to London’s Congestion Charge, which was a major new scheme at the time. Whilst researching for my dissertation I read widely about traffic management, road user charging and the environmental & economic benefits of reducing road traffic. I learnt that transport planners also have a very important role to play in place making, improving public health and protecting the environment – which led me towards a career in the profession.
During the next few years I worked on a wide range of development planning and regeneration projects – including some high profile schemes in London and the South-East including Barking Riverside and the expansion of the ExCeL Centre in London Docklands. I progressively took more responsibility for managing members of the team and acted as transport planning lead and project manager. I also benefitted from international experience in the Middle East where I worked on major development and transport infrastructure projects in a Government advisory role.
Seeking to broaden my knowledge across the profession I started a distance learning MSc in Transport Planning and Engineering in 2015, finishing with a dissertation relating to electric vehicles. I was delighted to complete the MSc with a Distinction.
The TPP qualification has added significant value to me as a professional. I followed the Standard Route and enjoyed preparing the Portfolio of Evidence. I also found this process to be very informative enabling me to gain insights in to my competence level across the range of technical and management units. The advice I received from my mentor throughout this process was invaluable! The Professional Review was challenging but enjoyable, starting with a short presentation to the reviewers and ending with a wide ranging Q&A session.
I am proud to have achieved this important milestone and am now pleased to be mentoring other candidates – offering them advice and support along their journey towards becoming a Transport Planning Professional.