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Member of the Month
Ellie Gormley IEng FIHE

  • Friday April 23, 2021

IHE Junior Vice President; Self Employed – Freelance Engineering Consultant

What inspired you to become an engineer?
As a young girl I was always making things with Lego or Meccano so I guess it was just destiny. My first job was a trainee draughtsperson, but I was far more interested in the design element.

What made you join the IHE?
I joined the IHE in 1997. I had no professional qualifications at that time, but was ambitious to have post nominals. I also had the desire to volunteer to help others achieve their professional goals.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
I was ambitious and wanted to progress my career and prove to myself I could do it. The salary enhancement when I was professionally qualified was also important, as it afforded me the lifestyle I wanted.

Has professional registration benefited your career and did this have any benefit for your employer?
Yes. It presented opportunities to network and share in new ideas and sustainable innovations to enhance the projects I was involved in. It has opened up lots of opportunities for me and provided
a fantastic avenue to network and observe new ideas and innovations. In addition to my STEM ambassador role, the IHE has given me the opportunity to be involved in mentoring, assessing and reviewing members to achieve their professional goals.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Don’t hesitate, just do it.

Is there any advice you would like members to take into consideration?
Absolutely, encourage all your work colleagues to consider getting professionally qualified. There is a wealth of information on the IHE website to assist you to in becoming professionally qualified,
and many CPD opportunities to share good practice. The Engineering Council is now becoming much more strict on checking individuals’ CPD records and the IHE can fill any gaps you may have. As an institute, we are one of the bodies that have a direct input in accrediting university degrees, and student members should make sure the qualification they are studying is accredited. The IHE can advise you on this.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
Before finishing full-time work, almost three years ago, I was principal engineer in the highway design team at Telford & Wrekin Council. I deputised for the engineering manager as required and was responsible for project managing larger schemes from the Highways Capital Programme.

Can you describe a typical working day?
There was no such thing as a typical day. I may have been out on a construction site, checking that the quality of work , or chasing up actions for projects or ensuring that everyone who needs to now the progress of a project has been informed. I also would check designs or write design briefs back in the office. My current role, as a freelance consultant, is different, I am networking with both consultants and contractors, negotiating contracts and project managing.

Are there any challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
You sometimes get faced with issues and think, how on earth do I deal with this? In the early years of my career, while I was being supported educationally, it was difficult to progress and get promotion. As a woman engineer I felt that my skills were not being recognised. I had to move authorities in order to climb the career ladder. I have however seen a marked difference over the past few years and believe that women are being far more recognised in the industry.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The variety of the work, the networking openings, and most importantly the opportunity to make a difference to the local road network.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
I co-ordinated and delivered one of the first Safer Routes to School Projects in Staffordshire. It was a community-based project and not without its challenges, but the sense of pride I had when
everyone worked together to achieve their goals was totally satisfying. I really enjoyed the community aspect.

Personal accomplishment?
Being asked to be a future President of the IHE. I will be honoured to undertake the role and will promote the institute and to the best of my ability.

What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?
As the highway network is in constant need of upkeep and traditional remediation, there are many environmental challenges we are faced with. For one, we need to ensure the road network is constructed or repaired in a more sustainable way. Many companies are now looking at ways to recycle materials for road construction; however this doesn’t come without cost so there is a balance to be had. Another challenge is public perception; we need to raise the public’s awareness so they can improve their own carbon footprints. Economically, we have a real shortage of skills in the highways sector, which will be extremely damaging in the future  if not addressed soon.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
In five years time, I will have the honour of being the President of the IHE. Our team of staff and volunteers do an incredible job, and I am looking to build on that to further promote the Institute
and provide members with the tools they need to achieve their professional goal.

Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
Yes. I am a mentor, reviewer and assessor for the IHE. I have been a previous chair of the IHE Mercia Branch and as a keen golfer I organise the IHE Mercia Branch annual golf day. I am the IHE’s  epresentative on the Joint Board of Moderators, and, periodically, a member of the team which undertakes university visits to assess engineering degrees for professional accreditation. I am a member of the Industrial Liaison Board at Aston University, a STEM ambassador, and have just received my 100 hrs Certificate. I am also a member of the Women’s Engineering Society
(WES).

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