Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

2023 marks a decade of celebrating the Women’s Engineering Society‘s International Women in Engineering Day. Now in it’s tenth year, this awareness day plays a key role in promoting our amazing women engineers working across the globe in a sector in which they are still largely under-represented.

At Bouygues UK, we value all our female employees and the incredible talent they bring. We are constantly working to get more young women into construction and engineering, as we know how crucial they are to the transformation of our business and the industry we are part of.

This year, we are spotlighting one of our many inspiring women, Hortense Colin, our Envelope and External Works Core Manager. Here is what she had to say about her experience as a woman at Bouygues UK.

Who are you and what is your role?

I am Hortense Colin, a passionate French Civil-Engineer who has been growing with Bouygues UK for almost 8 years. I am currently leading a role as Envelope and External works Core Manager for our project for the University of Essex, The Pastures.

What do you do in your day to day?

On paper it would be Health & Safety, Quality, Programme and Cost management. However, life on site is always full of surprises and one day is never the same as another. So really, my role is a mix of managing the works on site with the different stakeholders and finding common ground to ensure that all parties are satisfied.

What is something practical about engineering that you didn’t learn through your degree?

My engineering degree developed my attention to detail which is critical to my role now. I was taught the importance of always analysing the information that is given to you. My experience since my degree has developed my hard skills and sharpened my soft skills.

What sparked your interest in engineering? Can you explain how you realised this was a field you’d like to pursue?

I was planning to do a double master’s degree in civil-engineering and architecture then to settle in a role as an architect. However, during my placement on site with Bouygues UK on the first phase of Hallsville Quarter as a Civil Works Trainee, I realised that the dynamic nature of site and the interaction with different stakeholders was a perfect combination for me so I said goodbye to architecture!

How challenging would you say it is to integrate the engineering workforce as a woman?

The difficulties that I encountered were more the exception than the norm as I actually found things quite easy. I believe that, for a lot of these situations, it is always in the mindset; you simply cannot allow yourself to accept the unacceptable.

What advice would you give to future women in engineering? What transferable skills are required to be successful in that field?

My first advice would be that to go down the route of engineering you need to be passionate. In terms of skills to achieve success, what I look for in members of my team are: empathy, transparency, and team spirit. The rest can often be learned and developed with experience.

Do you feel like your gender has impacted your career experience/ perspective as opposed to your male counterparts? To what extent do you feel like gender is relevant to leadership?

Being a female did affect my career as it is a part of who I am. I have been surrounded with people who have accompanied me to grow and show me what it is to be a great leader. Leading people around me to be their best self has nothing to do with my gender, it is just the recipe of my passion for the industry and my willingness to achieve results.

Let’s shape our future generation to mirror our values at Bouygues UK by being role models and leading by example.

If you had any professional advice to give to your younger self starting in engineering, what would it be?

I would say to any other women considering entering the industry; don’t doubt yourself, believe in your instincts and learn your scope of works prior to starting on site.

Change of mindset comes through education first. What new initiatives could schools and universities have to incentivise other young women in pursuing engineering?

More time should be dedicated to bringing young women and girls onto site to meet the people that are in these roles in engineering and construction. Witnessing others so passionate about their day to day will always help others to understand more about what life on site means and how they would fit into this world.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I look forward to seeing those in my team continue to thrive and develop in their roles whilst focusing on my own career progression. I hope to be well on my way to leading a project with Bouygues UK.

Bouygues UK