What made you want to become an Engineer? Did you always know what you wanted to do?
My initial interest in Engineering really only began when I started considering possible career options at school. I was really good at Maths and the Sciences so this helped with narrowing my career options, Engineering being one of them. I’ve also always loved a challenge and I felt that Engineering would provide that.
However, it wasn’t until I completed a work shadowing week in the Engineering department of a multinational Oil and Gas firm in Nigeria that I made the firm decision to pursue a career in Engineering and I haven’t looked back since.
What route did you take to becoming an Engineer?
I followed the traditional route into Engineering. I started my A levels in Lagos, Nigeria where I grew up. I studied Maths, Chemistry and Physics. However after completing my AS level, I moved to the UK and decided to complete an Engineering Foundation Year at Brooke House College in Leicestershire. My foundation year subjects were centred around maths, mechanics and chemistry. I then went on to study Chemical Engineering at University. I completed a BEng degree from the University of Surrey, UK and obtained a Masters in Advanced Chemical and Process Systems Engineering from Imperial College London, UK.
After university, I joined Network Rail where I started my engineering career within the Technical Authority, and this began my journey into Infrastructure Asset Management and eventually RAM (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability). I took real interest in this area and was fortunate to work on exciting projects across various parts of the organisation including maintenance and capital delivery which gave me a broad and unique insight into the industry.
I now work for a global consultancy called WSP as a Principal RAM Assurance Engineer and Consultant providing technical advisory to major transport infrastructure and transformation projects.
As someone that is impact-driven, the best part of my role for me, is the value that I am able provide to clients and on projects.”
I am Damilola Fari-Arole, a 30 year old Chartered Engineer. My current role is Principal Engineer and Consultant at WSP in the UK. I am a British born Nigerian, currently living and working in the UK.
I have been working in the industry for 6 years and 4 months.
The Reality: what does your role actually involve and how does your work affect our lives/the world around us?
To describe what I do in a nutshell, I support rail clients and projects to deliver critical rail infrastructure safely, reliably and efficiently.
This involves helping infrastructure clients and organisations to identify potential risks and define and implement strategies and solutions to achieve better resilience and performance from their infrastructure assets, ensuring that they are able to perform as intended while balancing critical tradeoffs between cost, risk and performance throughout the project delivery lifecycle. I have worked on major transport capital and investment projects across the globe from High Speed Two in the UK to the first Metro Line out in Bogota, Colombia as well as minor asset renewals and maintenance projects.
Transport infrastructure is a critical enabler for the economic growth and is directly linked to the personal well-being of society. The demand for transport links and connectivity continues to grow and the systems that make up this infrastructure are becoming more and more complex. And so the role of a RAM Engineer in supporting organisations and asset owners through maintaining and getting the best out of their existing infrastructure whilst ensuring new infrastructure being developed are able to operate as intended i.e.helping people get safely from A to B without delays directly impacts our everyday lives.
While my experience has been predominantly within the transport infrastructure industry, the role of a RAM Engineer is equally vital in many sectors such as Energy, Utilities, Defense and other critical infrastructure industries providing essential services to people.
What kind of people in other professions do you get to work with within your role?
RAM is a very collaborative discipline and as such I work with closely with across project teams, from senior management and leadership to other technical and engineering disciplines (such as mechanical and electrical engineers); asset management specialists, technical safety specialists and so on.
What key skills have you picked up during your experience in the industry so far?
In addition to technical and critical reasoning skills, communication is a very important skill for successful engineers – the ability to communicate at all levels but also convey technical messages to a non-technical audience is extremely important. Teamwork, problem solving and the ability to work under pressure are also skills I have picked over my academic and professional career. Other skills I have learnt as I have progressed have been stakeholder management, client relationship management, project and commercial management.
What’s the best thing you like about your role?
As someone that is impact-driven, the best part of my role for me, is the value that I am able provide to clients and on projects; through making a design more reliable, minimising the risk (likelihood and/or impact) of failure of an asset, helping achieve cost savings through the design and operational life of a project etc.
I also really enjoy the teamwork element of my role, drawing on the expertise of multiple stakeholders to achieve a common objective such as delivering a project. As an Engineer I get to develop new, creative solutions to problems, which I really enjoy. I have really enjoyed the varied nature of my role in consulting, working on several projects of different scales, working with multiple clients and stakeholders.. there are many things I could list!
What advice would you give a young woman thinking about a career in your role?
My advice to a young woman thinking about an engineering career would be to follow your curiosity and passion. If you are undecided on whether engineering is for you, I would strongly advice to seek a placement, work shadowing opportunity or even mentor in industry who could guide you. Engineering opens you up to a world of exciting paths and opportunities and is a great place to start out your career, regardless of what you eventually venture out to do.
Outside of your role, do you have a passion project?
I am co-founder of the Black Women in Engineering (BWEng) network, a global network to connect, inspire and foster the advancement of black women in engineering. Our mission is to champion the positive impact of black women engineers and leaders globally.
BWEng was formed in 2020 out of a desire to increase visibility and support the advancement and retention of black women working in engineering across the globe while inspiring the next generation of young black girls into engineering.
Damilola Fari-Arole, ceng