We believe that pigeonholes should be left for pigeons, which is why we support our people to shape their careers around their own particular talents and aspirations.
A self-confessed Atkins ‘lifer’, Caroline talked to us about her very individual career path – and how she juggled a series of demanding roles with raising a young family.
“Looking back to when I joined Atkins as a graduate mechanical engineer in 1997, I could never have imagined my career would develop the way it has. That’s really down to the opportunities I’ve found here – and the support and encouragement I’ve had from the people around me.
A good example of that came early on. Originally, I had only intended to stay with Atkins for a couple of years – my plan back then was to make a few contacts and then become a recruitment consultant. But Atkins turned out to be an exciting and dynamic place to be and, most importantly, the people are really great. That’s why I stayed.
I love the fact that at Atkins, you can find your own way. The opportunities are there if you seek them out. There’s recognition that everyone is different and there is the freedom to weave in your strengths as you forge your own career path.
I now have two children, aged seven and five, and I took 13 months maternity leave for each, returning to new roles in the business both times – firstly getting a start up business going, and secondly as business head for of one of our established business units in Nuclear. I’ve since worked all sorts of part-time patterns and am now back full-time. I’m always juggling to get a good balance of being able to travel for work a little and also ensuring that I’m an active mum. I place huge value on this level of trust and flexibility within Atkins; my motto is to give more than I take – I want to make sure these fantastic aspects of my career are protected.
When I was planning my return to work after having my first baby, I was quite apprehensive about how I would make it work. Coupled with this, my boss outlined a new, high-profile role that he wanted me to take on. Ultimately, it turned out to be a fantastic decision and a really exciting opportunity that I thoroughly enjoyed – definitely one of the best moves I’ve ever made that even ended with me getting promoted just before heading off for my second maternity leave. That proved to me that you’ve just got to jump in there and give it a go. It is good to be challenged like that, and it gives you the opportunity to change the dimensions of your career and grow as a person.
At Atkins, we always say that we are a people business. Here in Nuclear, we’re making sure that it’s more than just a statement, but a fact. My current job is focused on it, developing a people strategy around the needs of the organisation that will support our staff to flourish. It’s not an HR role, but is all about thinking how our people will lead us through a major period of growth and global development. The success of the business will require rapid organic growth coupled with excellent levels of staff retention in an environment where our people are valued, their strengths are recognised and they are supported in what is a fast-moving business.
I also invest quite a bit of energy in working to make us a more diverse organisation. I believe that great minds do not think alike! The first step we’re taking towards diversity is addressing our gender balance. Retaining and attracting more women into Atkins is a key step in our diversity journey. As part of this, I worked alongside a government initiative for women in work which led me to present twice at the House of Lords. I was very proud to be asked to do that and play my part in changing things for the better, managing to showcase Atkins as a leader in gender balance along the way.
For me, Atkins’ strength is in helping its people to develop their own strengths. The business is about us delivering outstanding work for our customers, whether we’re doing it as individuals or part of a team. It’s all about improving and succeeding together.”