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Francesca Downey, GIS Consultant, Atkins


GIS Consultant

Business area: ADS&T, Technology Services and Solutions, Geospatial and Asset Data
Years into GDP: 1
University and degree: University of Sheffield, BSc Geography

Can you briefly describe your role and what you do?

My role as a graduate GIS consultant within Atkins involves various tasks that are constantly changing. I work closely with a lot of teams within Atkins and with external clients to create figures for use within reports. These can range from small scale Phase 1 Habitat analysis figures to figures for use within public consultation of new road and rail schemes. In addition to simple figure creation, I do a lot of spatial analysis, this can involve creating viewsheds, network analysis and constraint analysis. This allows us to help clients in vital decision making, for example where to put a new river crossing or cable route. Alongside the creation of figures, my role includes the management of spatial data to help clients make accurate and informed decisions. This is done through database management, in software such as PostGIS where it is possible to see exactly when data was updated and how many times it has been revised. I also help clients to manage their data through the creation of online web maps, having data digitally means that it can be regularly updated and the client can see how information has changed instantly.

What projects have you worked on during the graduate development programme?

Since starting the graduate programme 10 months ago I have worked on 56 different jobs! Some of the major ones have included HS2, Midland Mainline Electrification, A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down and the National Drainage Contract. My role has varied on all these projects, from providing GIS support through data management and data analysis to creating aesthetic representations for use within reports. The geospatial team get to work with many teams across the whole of Atkins which exposes you to a wide variety of different people and projects. For example, I worked very closely with the heritage team on HS2, producing figures for over 100 sites to go into reports for detailed desk based assessments along the HS2 route. On Midland Mainline I’ve worked closely with the environment team and the engineer design team to help plan the location of structures and to improve safety on site.

The variety of projects I have worked on has meant that I have learnt a huge range of skills over and above what I learnt at university, for example I can now create online web maps, use software I had never heard of before starting at Atkins and perform much more in depth analysis of spatial data.

What social, society or CSR activities have you been involved with at Atkins?

At Atkins there is a really great graduate community, when I first started I worked in Birmingham but I was moved to London after six months. In both offices I made a great group of friends really quickly despite being the only graduate in my team. The social coordinators organise regular socials and I’ve done a really wide range of things, from food and drink festivals to bingo! The graduate ski trip was great fun and was a fantastic opportunity to not only get to know the people in your office better, but to get to know other grads across Atkins as well. We had 18 people from the Birmingham office all in the same chalet, so it was a real bonding experience!!

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