Jenefer Alam knows just what it is like to work in the mud and rain on major construction sites.

In fact, Jenefer, 39, lived in a static caravan beside a major road improvement project on the A3, near Portsmouth, for nearly three years, working daily with a predominantly male team onsite.

However, whilst working in the thick of it, she developed a desire to step back and take a wider overview of major projects to identify how they could be run more efficiently and effectively.

Two years ago this led her to take on the role of benefits lead for Programme and Project Partners (PPP) at Sellafield Ltd.

Introduced by Sellafield Ltd in May 2019 the Programme and Project Partners model brings together KBR, Doosan, Jacobs and Morgan Sindall Infrastructure in a 20-year partnership to deliver up to £7bn of work.

The model is intended to create a more predictable method for procurement and more effective working partnerships, as well as delivering long-term social value for West Cumbria and better value for money for the UK tax payer.

Jenefer is employed by KBR although her role encompasses the whole of PPP.

In practice this involves taking a step back and monitoring PPP to ensure it achieves its goals, as well as identifying examples of best practice within its work which can be expanded to benefit the project as a whole.

"It basically comprises making sure that we collaborate across project teams and across abilities," says Jenefer.

"We encourage people to generate ideas and innovations and at the same time, help them identify what value this brings overall, in terms of quantifiable and also intangible benefits.”

Born in Bangladesh, Jenefer’s father was an electrical engineer, while her grandfather was a civil engineer, providing two valuable role models in her early life.

The family travelled extensively and spent time living in Abu Dhabi before Jenefer came to the UK to study civil engineering with water and environmental management at the University of Greenwich. She also has an MBA from University of Warwick.

Her career included a stint working on major road projects for Balfour Beatty as a site engineer, involving work on the project to turn a section of the A3 into a dual carriageway and construct the 1.15m Hindhead Tunnel under a Site of Special Scientific Interest known as the Devil’s Punch Bowl.

"I've always seen engineers on the ground and it's pretty well known that we tend to firefight a lot," she says.

"My passion is reducing that firefighting so that we can actually do our work better and with less stress. That led me into looking at enhancements and improvements in our delivery.”

Jenefer became a quality and construction enhancements manager and then associate director at global engineering consultancy WSP, specifically working in Qatar to deliver 200 projects and $30bn in infrastructure development.

She is now putting her experience and skills to use at PPP regularly travelling to Sellafield Ltd sites in either Cumbria or Warrington.

Her role involves working with teams involved in everything from process engineering to social impact, monitoring beneficial work which is being done and trying to expand that across PPP as a whole.

"So if health and safety introduce a measure that actually reduces the potential for near misses on the site, it's capturing that and making sure that's actually translated as a standard to other projects,” she says

"What we want to get to is a position when we leave behind a legacy called the 'PPP Way' so Sellafield can pick that up and give it to the next partnership and that would be their paradigm shift in the delivery of projects.”

Some of the many initiatives that have played a part in this include developing collaborative management plans which are adopted by all the partners and cover every aspect of the project. This is in addition to on-the-ground actions such as building a concrete plant onsite to save sourcing it externally, or using a system of buses to transport workers within the site, reducing the number of cars and improving health and safety.

Jenefer is also involved in outreach work, talking to local schools and colleges - including West Lakes College, St Benedict’s Catholic High School and more - about what she does in order to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Jenefer says although being a woman has not held her back in her career, it can be a disadvantage to have a lack of female role models in the sector.

At the same time, she says women can sometimes feel like an “anomaly” in engineering because they can take a different approach to male colleagues.

"Those are the challenges that I think any of us come across and in some ways it can be something we learn from and we evolve and we actually use that to our advantage," she says. "In other cases, I have seen my colleagues struggle, feel very defeated or tired by it.

“I think it's a responsibility on all of us not to just inspire women but inspire the whole younger generation into engineering. I think this is done at a school level.

“It’s about what you leave behind, whether that is something you build physically, or making a difference by inspiring others.”

*Award-winning engineer Amee Flynn also loves making designs a reality

Since beginning her training as an engineer four years ago, Amee Flynn has made something of a name for herself.

As well as picking up the award for Engineering Apprentice: Final Year for the North West at the Make UK Awards last year, she was also nominated as Apprentice/Trainee of the Year in our very own in-Cumbria Business Awards.

At the same time, her employers at TSP Engineering, in Workington, have had nothing but praise for the work she has done.

Amee, 24, from Egremont, came to engineering relatively late at the age of 21 after having early ambitions to be a fashion designer and then working in business administration when she left school.

"Engineering is something that's always interested me and in the local area in West Cumbria you're spoilt for choice for engineering companies," she says.

"I like to solve problems, it's how my brain works. I'm quite a logical person and so I thought that getting into engineering would be perfect for me."

Amee initially did a level three mechanical design apprenticeship with Gen2, in Lillyhall, while working at TSP and is currently studying a level six at Lakes College.

"I was a bit older than the other apprentices when I did my level three and I think having that extra bit of life experience really helped," she says.

"It's stepping up now that I am doing my HND and getting ready for a degree next year, but I get a lot of support from the engineers at work, which is really helpful."

Since joining TSP in September 2018 Amee has worked on a range of projects in industries including nuclear and defence, working in various departments including quality assurance, projects and design.

Her work has included designing manipulation equipment for turning large flasks of nuclear material in slings attached to a crane.

“Taking it from sketching it out on a bit of paper to putting it through your CAD system, getting all your models and your documentation and then actually seeing it being manufactured; there's no words to describe that,” says Amee.

“It's extraordinary that you can take something from a piece of paper and then see it lift a seven or 10 tonne item. When you see that with your own eyes, it's really motivating and I love it.”

Amee started her time at TSP working in mechanical design but now focuses on project engineering.

As a project engineer she works with other people’s designs to take an item through to the manufacturing stage.

"From a very young age TSP give you a lot of responsibility and they let you take the reins with projects," says Amee.

"I always take the chance to go into meetings with customers and I appreciate being given that much trust. I enjoy being in the office, but I also go out onto the shop floor every day as well to work on the practical side, which is always fun.”

Amee is realistic about the challenges of being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated world, but says she is more than prepared to make sure she is respected and listened to.

Although she says there is roughly a fifty per cent split between men and women across TSP’s workforce, she is one of only two female project engineers out of a team of around seven.

"I'm not shy to challenge at work and get my opinion across. I think that's important. I won't back down and just be quiet,” says Amee.

"We need engineers and whether you're male or female, as long as you're the best person for the job that's all that matters.

"If someone wants to become an engineer, then they should definitely go for it. You've just got to be prepared to challenge and accept there may be times where you have difficult conversations, but it’s hard to decipher if this is down to the individual, being female or just being young and inexperienced.”