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Building a career, leaving a legacy

At Atkins we realise the importance of creating a professional environment that confronts the challenges that women face during their careers. We talked to Asha Prasanna, group architect, about her experiences and how she dealt with common issues that women encounter during their working lives.

Tell us about any career challenges that you've faced.
Most women have confronted challenges at every phase of their lives. My first challenge was actually trying to convince my parents that selecting architecture as a profession was the right choice. 15 years ago, preference was given to engineering courses such as computer science and electronics. Architecture as a career choice, was felt to have no job prospects – especially in the government sector.

So, why did you choose architecture?
What other job allows you to leave your mark for a lifetime and beyond? A profession that, even after you’ve gone, will remind people of your efforts? It’s almost like I’m living a longer and larger life than my own mortality because the buildings I design will represent me forever – they’re a part of me. Also, I’m a huge believer in combining your passion with your work. That way it doesn’t even feel like work anymore.

What do you enjoy about working at Atkins?
I’m proud to be a part of a company where people genuinely care about each other. It’s so satisfying to have this constant support system and to be surrounded by diverse and knowledgeable co-workers. Also, I love having the opportunity to interact with our colleagues across our global offices and working with renowned clients such as Network Rail, Crossrail and London Underground.

How does Atkins embrace gender diversity issues at work?
We’re constantly debating and deliberating the need for women to take career breaks for reasons like marriage, maternity, or caring for elderly family members. They’re all issues that impact our career plans, but it feels that Atkins as an organisation is very forward thinking.
The initiatives they offer have benefitted women greatly.  Things like working from home and flexible hours all contribute to a good work/life balance. It allows us to be mothers, carers and wives – as well as successful career women. It’s definitely a place where our careers can grow, irrespective of our personal life challenges.