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Mike Woolgar, MD of environmental and water management, Atkins


MD of environmental and water management

When did you join Atkins?

I first joined in 1980, but re-joined in 1992.

Why did you join Atkins?

The second time I was invited back to run the water department’s strategy for international growth.

What did you do before you joined Atkins?

Between 1988 and 1992 I was a project manager leading raw water reservoir and irrigation infrastructure projects on Libya’s enormous Great Man-Made River project.

How would you describe your role and responsibilities?

Leading a great team of engineers, scientists, economists and consultants in finding sustainable solutions to some of today’s most complex problems at the interface between human development and the water environment.

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

With great enthusiasm!

Do you have any professional accreditations?

MICE, MCIWEM, C Eng, Member BHS, Member BDS.

What key projects have you worked on?

Great Man-Made River, Severn Estuary Flood Risk Assessment, Thames Barrier upgrade planning.

What are you currently working on?

The Sennar Dam gate replacement, Sudan; Yellow and Yangtze rivers basin planning support to the Chinese Ministry of Water; project preparation services for EIB in North Africa.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I was chairman of the Partners for Water and Sanitation charity for four years, which matched senior UK water and environment industry professionals with counterparts in African water utilities and regulators.The UK professionals worked on a peer-to-peer basis to support the development of individuals, processes, policies and regulations. I also must add - growing the terrific team I currently lead.

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

I usually say it’s always the next one.

How has your career developed at Atkins?

I have retained a 'practitioner/director' role so my career has developed in spurts – spending time developing skills in one area, finding a new application and then moving into a fresh and challenging arena.

How have you been supported during your career development?

I am highly self-motivated so most career development activity has been as a result of that but the support has been there to allow me to develop and to underpin that development if it droops!

How do water management professionals and Atkins make a difference?

Getting the management of water right is already urgent in some places and is going to be more difficult in many other places. Water is essential for food, power and economic development but too much or too little in the wrong place at the wrong time can be disastrous. At Atkins we understand the need for true multidisciplinary working where professionals in different sectors can work together, respecting each others’ skills and input and being brave enough to stand up when it matters and to sit back when others need to hold centre stage. By thinking at scale and by making the best use of our diverse skills we can provide workable, economic and sustainable solutions.

How would you describe the culture at Atkins?

I suspect it’s similar to most big corporations, with occasional flashes of brilliance that allow for a blend of reliable excellence!

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