“My brilliant engineering colleagues are my real heroes”

We caught up with Jacobs programme manager, Jackie Roe, to talk about her career, the heroes who inspire her and the advice she would offer to young professionals.

Jackie Roe, programme manager at Jacobs.

The UK is developing some of the most significant and strategic infrastructure in its history. Projects that are central to building Britain’s future that are driving outcomes that safeguard the environment and improve security, social equity, resiliency and productivity. Across these major programmes, diverse teams of multidisciplinary specialists are putting their knowledge and imagination together, to reinvent the way problems are solved shaping the next generation of smart solutions.

Jacobs’ Jackie Roe is an experienced programme director who has spent more than half her life managing some of the world’s most complex, time-sensitive and publicly sensitive infrastructure projects, including the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Rio 2016 Olympics and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She has also worked in Australia supporting some of Jacob’s Australian clients deliver their large-scale infrastructure projects and is currently working on a major clean energy programme in the UK

We talked to Jackie about her career, the heroes who inspire her and the advice she would offer to young professionals.

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on these days.

Having spent nearly eight years in the UK working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel in London and prior to that on the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, last year I took the opportunity to travel to Sydney. There, I worked with a variety of our Jacobs teams to share major infrastructure project best practice and key learnings, as well as to help steer and support some of our clients as they embark on larger and more complex infrastructure projects and programmes than ever before. Since returning to the UK, I have joined the integrated client team at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, where Jacobs is a strategic partner helping EDF to bring the UK its first new nuclear power station in more than two decades.

What’s your favourite part of your role?

As a programme manager, the fantastic variety that comes from bringing together fabulously talented people with diverse skills, competencies, experience and ideas to tackle the many challenges and find the optimum way to deliver the most complex of programmes for our clients. No day is the same, I’m continuously spinning a multitude of plates covering health, safety and wellbeing, commercial, programme controls, engineering, environment, quality, legacy and sustainability, integration, governance, assurance, team building and nurturing our relationship with our clients and our many stakeholders. You can’t beat it!

Who are some of the heroes who inspired you to pursue a career in engineering and construction?

I’ve never considered myself as having heroes, but if I reflect back on my career, my heroes are all those engineers I’ve worked with along the way who were passionate about what they did, brought much fun and laughter to every new task, who were happy to take time out to answer my never ending stream of questions and who encouraged me to jump with both feet into the next challenge on my career path. Even now, after 30 years in construction, I continue to add names to my heroes list.

When you think of engineers or engineering as a hero, what does that mean to you?

They are simply those that plan, design, construct and maintain the infrastructure that enables society to flourish, and which most people take for granted.  

Most interesting career moment?

That’s a difficult one, because the most interesting career moment is usually the next one, when I’m embarking on a new challenge and learning something new. Some of those moments have been crawling around the nooks and crannies of the London Underground, accessing corridors and stations that have been closed for 50+ years, still with the old advertising on the walls; encountering and engaging with protestors on one or two of our projects and having to look up many of the unrecognisable terms in the risk registers and reports from my team when I took over managing the delivery of the extensive landscaping works on the London 2012 Olympic Park. That was a whole new world for me.

What would you rate a ten out of ten?

Working as deputy programme director on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project in London. It’s a challenging and exciting project with an exemplary collaborative culture and a hugely talented team - from the client all the way through the supply chain – and with one aim - to clean up the River Thames and reconnect Londoners with the river. It was very hard work but also an absolute joy to work on the project.

Most proud career moment?

As someone who has spent most of their career building civil infrastructure that is either buried or hidden from public view and very much taken for granted by those who benefit from it, wandering around the Olympic Park with my family on the first day of competition at the London 2012 Games was pretty spectacular. Overhearing people saying how fabulous the park was, that even the utilities buildings were architecturally stunning and knowing that I and my team had been instrumental in making it happen, was a very proud moment. And even more so now, ten years on, when you see the park thriving, having delivered on our legacy promises.

People would be surprised to know that I….

Have been lucky enough to have set foot on every continent of the planet. Next stop, the moon!

What advice would you give to young professionals?

Grab every opportunity you can, even if it’s not the big, glamorous project you were hoping for. Some of the smallest projects and the oddest roles can be the most interesting with the best opportunity for learning new skills. Ask lots of questions along the way. In all my years in this industry, I have never worked with anyone that hasn’t been eager to share their knowledge and experience. And make the most of the great people you work with, including having fun with them.

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