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Mariam Olayiwola, Hydrogeologist, Atkins



Business area: Water Management Consultancy
Years into GDP: 3
University and degree: Chemistry BSc (The University of Sheffield), Applied Hydrogeology MSc (Newcastle University).


Can you briefly describe your role and what you do?

I am a hydrogeologist, which essentially means I am an Environmental Scientist that specialises in groundwater and boreholes.

I work in water delivery, so I often work on projects for large water companies, such as Thames Water and Severn Trent Water, helping to deliver water to the millions of people across the UK. As water is such a vital resource, a lot of my work will involve protection of clean waters and the environment. This is really important to me as I’m extremely passionate about the environment and am glad I can do my bit to help protect it.

A lot of my work is office based, but I take as many opportunities as possible to get out into the field. I love working outdoors and at Atkins I’ve had the opportunity to work in some amazing places. From beautiful rolling hills in Wales to a disused landfill site just inside the M25. The landfill was a bit smelly, but I found it absolutely fascinating.

What’s been your highlight on the graduate development programme so far?

The highlight of the graduate programme for me was taking part in a water quality monitoring programme in the Isle of Thanet. I was sent out in a team of 3-4 hydrogeologists to take water quality samples from boreholes across the area. We went out 4 times a year, for a week at a time. During the week of sampling we stayed at a hotel in Thanet. This was a real bonding experience and we got to know each other really well.

But, it wasn’t without its challenges. One of our boreholes was particularly stubborn and wouldn’t cooperate with our electric pump. We ended up spending almost 2 hours purging the boreholes and collecting samples using a hand pump. It was exhausting, but we felt very accomplished when we walked away from that borehole with our samples.

For the 3rd monitoring round I was asked to lead the site work. Atkins are very good at giving graduates opportunities in project management early on in their careers and I was very happy to be given the chance. I was responsible for ordering all the site equipment, organising hotels and vehicles (including a large transit van), coordinating the lab analysis and collections, writing up a timetable and organising the team on site. It was certainly a challenge, but I really enjoyed being given the responsibility and felt it was a good opportunity to develop my leadership skills.

What do you do outside of the graduate development programme?

I am a hula-hooper in a performance troupe called Marawa’s Majorettes. We perform internationally at festivals, private parties, gallery openings, charity events and much, much more. It’s not a common hobby/sport, but I love it! This year we got the Guinness World Record for the most hoops spun by a group. Spinning a total of 300 hoops in a team of 10!

This year I also volunteered to be part of the events team for the Graduate Summer Event. An event organised to celebrate and mark the end of the graduate programme. As part of the event we have organised a sports afternoon, where I have volunteered to run a hula-hooping session. There are so many opportunities at Atkins and I’m so glad I’m able to share my hobbies with my colleagues and friends here.

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