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Janet Southern, Senior consultant, Atkins


Senior consultant

When did you start working at Atkins?

January 2013.

Why did you join Atkins?

I wanted to gain experience in the private sector and I was attracted by Atkins' environmental and global focus, particularly its work on Future Proofing Cities.

What did you do before you joined Atkins?

I worked for a non-profit organisation focusing on leadership and learning in the area of sustainability and climate change.

How would you describe your role and responsibilities?

I am part of the procurement and commercial team within Management Consultants, focusing on strategic procurement and optimisation. I get the chance to lead on client projects as well as business development work.

How do you describe what you do to friends and family?

I provide support to public sector organisations, primarily local and central government, around the way they buy goods and services. This enables them to increase efficiency and savings in order to deliver more value for their clients. I also support Atkins internally on strategic work that is helping the company establish its global market leadership.

What key projects have you worked on?

I worked for Belfast City Council designing and implementing a procurement programme for the city’s public bike share scheme to enable the uptake of sustainable urban transport options within the local population. I have also worked for the National Health Service in multiple roles, one of which was delivering a contractual review of existing suppliers, assessing their value for money and overall impact on the patient population. The outputs of the contractual review informed the client’s future funding decisions. Another interesting project I have worked on was the delivery of a global rail assessment report for Atkins itself. This report provided a market analysis of the global rail industry, a review of what Atkins' rail business focuses on and how these services and projects are currently delivered across its regions, and suggestions as to where Atkins could focus and develop its future rail strategy for the next five years.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently supporting an internal piece of work called ‘Deliver Work’ that supports the way we deliver ongoing programmes and portfolios across Atkins, helping to achieve the company’s strategic objectives and vision.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The global rail assessment report for Atkins gave me the opportunity to work on a senior internal project, the output of which is contributing to the development of a corporate-level strategy that can ultimately support economic and social development in regions such as Asia and Africa. This was an exciting project to be a part of and makes me feel like I am helping to shape the future of Atkins, as well as also supporting sustainable development across the world.

What’s the most technically challenging project you’ve worked on?

I led a project where I had to design and implement a procurement programme for a client in a sector that was relatively unknown to me and within aggressive timescales. I was pushed to get up to speed with the context and how the technical requirements of the procurement, including industry standards, could support a positive outcome for the client within a short space of time!

How has your career developed at Atkins?

Since joining Atkins I have been challenged to develop within a business environment. I have been provided with opportunities to work in a variety of industries, requiring me to adapt quickly to new environments in order to deliver quality and meet client expectations. I have been given the chance to develop my leadership skills through management of projects and teams, and my portfolio of skills, including technical delivery, business development and strategy, and stakeholder engagement, has grown significantly. Overall, I am more confident in my professional abilities.

How have you been supported during your career development?

I have been very lucky with the line managers to whom I have been assigned – they have provided me with active stewardship and support to enable my professional and personal development.

How do consultants and Atkins make a difference?

Consultants and Atkins can provide the skills transfer and knowledge-sharing to public sector clients that can empower them to support and grow their organisations. Consultants are often seen in a negative light, especially from outside of the industry, however consulting can support development and sustainability in order to increase impact.

How would you describe the culture at Atkins?

Atkins is a mixing pot of skills and personalities – as a result, there is an opportunity to collaborate with people you would normally never get the chance to interact with – this enables more learning and growth.

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