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Charlotte Sugden, Senior Flood Risk Consultant, Atkins


Senior Flood Risk Consultant

What have been your key achievements since joining Atkins?

I joined Atkins as a Graduate in 2012, following a MSc in Environmental Water Management from Cranfield University. Since then I have been involved with a broad range of projects that include everything from; flood risk assessments for new developments, producing flow estimates to input into flood risk modelling, economic assessments to evaluate flood risk reduction options, GIS assessments to understand the opportunities for retrofitting SuDS, through to supporting Lead Local Flood Authorities in undertaking their statutory responsibilities such as investigating flood incidents, building business cases for funding, and developing Local Flood Risk Management Strategies. One project in particular that stands out as an achievement was a secondment to Surrey County Council (SCC). I originally went there to support them with data collection, management and analysis following the flooding in winter 2013-14. However my initial three month secondment developed into a close working relationship through which I gained an in depth understanding of the challenges they face as a Lead Local Flood Authority. This gave me valuable insight into our Local Authority clients. Over the course of 16 months I helped SCC improve the efficiency of high priority and high volume work streams by developing and implementing strategies, reviewing and improving processes, supporting staff with guidance and training and building innovative automation tools to help standardize high volume tasks such as providing flood risk reports to customers. I found it very satisfying to be able to see the impact of my work and receive positive client feedback.
Becoming a go – to person for hydrology and economics, my two specialities, has also been a key achievement over the my career and it’s allowed me to mentor and train others in these specialisms which I particularly enjoy.

What attracted you to Atkins?

As one of the world’s largest and most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies, Atkins provides the breadth and variety of work that keeps you on your toes. The prestige of the projects that Atkins works on caught my eye, alongside its reputation and its purpose which aligns to my own; to have a positive impact on the world. There are also great opportunities to move across the business (both geographically and by discipline) and get involved in many different projects, especially as a Graduate. For example I was supported through a move of location, from Epsom to Warrington.

What other activities have you been involved with?

After about 18 months in the business I took on the part-time role of Epsom Innovation Hub Leader. The Innovation Hubs were a national network of colleagues who work together, with their local offices to identify, share and encourage innovation within Atkins. This was a great opportunity for me to build my network of contacts in the business, learn more about the vast variety of innovative work that Atkins do and also develop key professional skills such as influencing and communicating effectively. My achievements and efforts as Hub Leader were recognized by the business through a promotion and I became the Innovation Hub Project Manager. I worked with and supported all Hub Leaders across the UK to achieve our goals. I also helped to develop and facilitate our innovation module which forms part of the Graduate Development Programme. This was one of my favourite aspects of my innovation role as I got to speak to and learn from new graduates about their experiences and the fascinating work they do. Atkins provides many opportunities for you to shape your own career path, as I have done, you just have to seize them.
More recently I have also taken on ownership of the development of two innovative digital tools to make the work we do more efficient and consistent. I will be rolling these out to the wider business for the benefit of my colleagues.
Since joining Atkins I have also been supported to gain Chartership with the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) through mentorship and a structured training / professional development programme. I am now a CIWEM mentor myself, helping others through their chartership and a line manager, taking responsibility for the professional development of others which I find very rewarding.

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