RSK director Sue Sljivic in The Guardian
Last week, RSK director Sue Sljivic had her article ‘Engineering has moved on, it's time women took advantage’ published in the online The Guardian. Sue’s piece forms part of The Guardian’s ‘Women in Leadership’ series, which also features articles on maternity leave, media representation and the disregard of technology in women’s magazines.RSK’S Sue Sljivic (centre)
Sue begins by addressing her challenging start in the male-dominated construction industry. “I was pretty much the only woman on construction sites in my first job as a landscape architect on what was the largest onshore oil field in Western Europe,” she says. She then describes the walls of site huts as adorned with “bikini-clad girls” and recalls that she “would regularly turn up to meetings with 20 or so people, all of them men, and be expected to take minutes and pour the tea. I used to laugh it off, but it took me a while to find the confidence to say no.”
Given that just a few years later Sue became co-founder of RSK such an anecdote is almost laughable. As Sue acknowledges in the article, the industry’s attitude towards women has rapidly changed since her career began over 25 years ago. Her answer to the reason behind this, however, is perhaps given more in hope than belief: “hopefully because the industry has grown up and recognised the need for more technical specialists whatever their gender, but also because HR departments would not tolerate it.”
Sue is quick to highlight RSK’s refreshingly positive approach to women in the workplace, “Today, the proportion of female staff is a third: roughly the same as it was when I joined 23 years ago. That percentage is the same for those classified as senior and above, and 25% at board level. We took the decision early on to send female engineers to the Middle East, and a woman runs our operations in Saudi Arabia, working from home as she raises a family.” She concludes, “I am proud of RSK's track record in recruiting and retaining women.”
Sue also supports several industry initiatives, including Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), which some of RSK’s energy clients, such as Shell, also support.
For more information, please contact Sue Sljivic.
RSK leads the way in biodiversity offsetting
RSK’s ecology team is now providing biodiversity offsetting services to clients. Biodiversity offsets are conservation activities designed to deliver biodiversity benefits in compensation for losses in a measurable way. Biodiversity offsets are distinguished from other forms of ecological compensation by the requirement for measurable outcomes: the losses resulting from the impact of the development and the gains achieved through an offset are measured in the same way.
Previously, creating alternative nature sites to compensate for the damage caused by development was implemented on a case-by-case basis. However, in April 2012, Defra launched a two-year biodiversity offsetting pilot to test the effectiveness of applying the method to the planning process. RSK associate director Ruth Voigt was a member of the sounding board set up by Defra in 2012 to review the guidance documents for developers before the launch of the pilot study.
RSK has already applied biodiversity offsetting on several ecology projects, which have developed the team’s capabilities in this new, but rapidly growing, area. They are therefore well qualified for similar projects and are looking forward to using their experience and applying biodiversity offsetting on future projects.
There are still several challenges to be addressed before biodiversity offsetting is fully implemented. However, it is likely that the concept will be introduced nationally in the next few years. RSK will be well placed to support its clients as the policy changes.
Matt runner-up at Pipeline Industries Guild’s annual Young Professionals Technical Presentation Competition
Matt Stringfellow from RSK’s geophysics team was the runner-up at the South East Branch of the Pipeline Industries Guild’s annual Young Professionals Technical Presentation Competition.RSK’s Matt Stringfellow, centre, and Pipeline Industries South East Branch Chairman Anton Gazzard, far right.
Matt was invited to submit a 200-word synopsis for the competition on a topic relevant to pipeline industries for the chance to win prize money at the annual dinner. The Pipeline Industries Guild, formed in 1957, is the place where those of different engineering disciplines and applications meet to discuss and disseminate leading-edge technology.
Matt, being a geophysicist, chose what he knows best and gave a talk on geophysics and how it can be used as a tool to minimise the risks of unforeseen ground conditions. “The annual cost for pipeline maintenance and replacement is hundreds of millions for UK companies. In these circumstances, the use of geophysics in ground investigations, both for pre-construction planning and post-construction testing in pipelines, is highly valuable owing to its non-intrusive, time saving and cost cutting benefits,” said Matt.
The Presentation Competition was held on 3 September at Affinity Waters headquarters in Hatfield. Members of the branch committee acted as judges for the event. Marks were awarded for slides, performance, technical knowledge and ability to answer questions. Other presentations included novel methods of pipe cleaning and the influence on buried services of ground settlement from the Crossrail tunnels. “Hopefully my geophysics talk highlighted to the Guild the benefits geophysics can bring to a project,” Matt comments.