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Member of the Month
Victoria-Anne Walsh BSc (Hons) IEng FIHE RegHME
- Monday April 25, 2022
Highway Systems Manager, Devon County Council
What inspired you towards a career in engineering?
It happened by chance. I took a temporary six-month contract with Devon County Council after college. I wasn’t intending to stay – that was 19 and a half years ago. I instantly enjoyed the work and the challenge of problem solving that an engineering environment offered.
What made you join the IHE?
I have been an IHE member for around five years. I joined after attending the highway maintenance engineering course run by the IHE.
Has professional registration benefited your career and your employer?
Absolutely. I have met several helpful members who have shared their experience with me. The updates provided on changes in the industry have been great and I feel really connected. Devon CC is a very supportive employer. It’s very much a two-way relationship – I try my best to share the skills I have learnt with my colleagues and the council support me in my development as well. A key benefit of being professionally registered is that it gives me the opportunity to mentor others and share my learning with my colleagues. I only achieved IEng two months ago, so I still have lots of learning to do. I am also a chartered manager and found that the access to industry updates and learning tools has been great. I expect IEng to be just as good.
Is there any advice you would give to IHE members?
Do your professional registration: it is a wonderful way to stay connected to the industry and learn from your colleagues nationally. I wish I had done mine years ago. Don’t be put off by the fear of failure. I have been lucky to have the support of a great organisation and wonderful mentors within Devon CC. This is certainly an area for companies to consider.
Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I work within the council’s traffic and highways maintenance service. I am responsible for the management of business processes and ICT systems, which is necessary to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of our core services to our communities. It is a varied role that I very much enjoy.
Can you describe a typical working day?
I am lucky as I work in a talented and forward-thinking organisation in a role that requires me to interact with various people and teams. These can be internal colleagues or representatives from contracting firms. I’m often working on several projects simultaneously. These are usually business processes or system improvements for highway maintenance works and activities.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
My role requires an understanding of business efficiencies and performance management as well as needing a deep understanding of the highway maintenance industry. This is a unique blend hat offers a fun challenge.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I would have to give two answers: the people and seeing improvement projects come to life. I am very much a people person and enjoy a role that allows me to interact daily. An example of where I as able to enjoy both these two aspects would be in 2020 when I had the opportunity to work with talented teams to see a permit for works scheme brought to life.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
I have recently achieved IEng – this was a good achievement that I am proud of. I recently have received some great feedback from the industry on a project I am working on around carbon reduction in highway construction works. There is no greater compliment than positivity from your colleagues.
What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?
Reduction of carbon emissions in highway construction works. Many local authorities have declared climate emergencies – Devon has a net zero pledge by 2030. The hard work is now starting: balancing how to achieve net zero while retaining the great service local authorities offer to maintain a functional and safe road network.
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years?
I hope I will look back and see some of the work that I have contributed to is making a difference.
Do you participate in any other career related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I acted as the secretary for SWJAG, SWTMG and SWHAUC for several years ago. I am now working closely with FHRG and SWHA on carbon reduction projects.
Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time personally and/or professionally?
I play the piano and enjoy walking the family dog. As a mother to two young boys, life is never quiet.