Alexis Field

Current employer: Highways England

Current job title: Operations Directorate Lean Business Partner

Current location: Plymouth

“Plymouth is recognised, throughout the civil engineering industry in particular, for having great graduates. I think this gives you an edge in employment.”
Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

Following graduation, I worked for WSP as a design consultant for about five years, working mainly for the private sector on large multidisciplinary projects such as the redevelopment of Bath city centre. I specialised in awkward brown field sites and enjoyed the challenge of making things work. I joined the Highways Agency (as it was then called) in 2009 as a Project Sponsor. I became a team leader in 2013 in the Service Delivery Team and then the Growth and Improvement Team. I am currently on secondment to the Lean team which are trying to embed improved working practices across the organisation and within our supply chain.

Beyond that I am involved with the ICE and other groups working to ensure there is better representation of our society in engineering – we desperately need more women, more ethnicities, and people from every background to be working in a sector that provides infrastructure and services to the communities we live in. I also raise awareness about mental health issues and have some videos on YouTube: headed ICE Talks highlighting some of these issues. I am an Incorporated Engineer, Chartered Manager, and will shortly be starting a Diploma in Coaching and Mentoring.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

The best thing about my career to date is the diversity of things I have done: every day is genuinely different and exploring what you are capable of, in challenging circumstances, can be very rewarding.

What would you do differently since graduating?

Get involved with networking earlier and get an independent mentor. Having external influences outside your place of work is important for a person’s development: it keeps you individual and fresh!  

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Spend more time researching the latest technologies – you don’t get enough time once you are working. To have that discipline early in your career will support more creative problem solving.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

Plymouth is recognised, throughout the civil engineering industry in particular, for having great graduates. I think this gives you an edge in employment.

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

I completed the HSE Diving at Work Qualification. We had some great times on the boat and diving. Most of all, it taught me a lot about team work.

Undergraduate civil engineering students conducting a hands-on activity in the Brunel heavy structures laboratory W14