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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we bring you Kyra Ferguson-Wardle (2011) who is a Chartered Civil Engineer working within the ever-evolving railway industry. As a predominately male-dominated industry, Kyra is showing true ‘girl power’ in her role, delivering railway schemes across the UK. We caught up with her to discuss how her Heriot’s education gave her the springboard to follow her dreams as highly regarded and versatile engineer.
Please get in touch if you wish to share your story ‘after Heriot’s’.
What is your current role?
I am a Chartered Civil Engineer working within the ever-evolving railway industry. I work within a global engineering consultancy, WSP UK Ltd, delivering railway schemes across the UK with some incredibly talented people. My main focus at the moment is on Project and Engineering Management of schemes with a few recent projects include the new Robroyston railway station and the East Kilbride Electrification scheme.
How did you get there?
After graduating from Heriot’s in 2011 I went to Edinburgh Napier University to Study a BEng in Civil Engineering. In 2015 I took my first career move into the role of a Geotechnical Engineer (which is mainly about the ground) and this developed over the years into a strong Civil engineering background in the railway industry.
In 2016, I undertook a part time Masters at Napier in Construction Project Management to help develop my skills and support my Chartership application. I found that the 4 years at Uni for my Bachelors was enough for me (wasn’t the biggest fan of Uni!) and I was eager to learn about the industry in a working environment which is why I did the part time Masters a year later. I must admit, it was a push working full time and doing a masters, but I am in a much better position now.
What are your most notable achievements?
Professionally, my greatest achievement has been gaining Chartership status with the Institution of Civil Engineers this summer. After graduation from Uni, this was my next goal and will forever be a huge milestone in my career!
Personally, and it does go back to profession, I am proud to call myself a Civil Engineer. I work with some amazing people and get to work on brilliant and exciting projects that I can one day tell my kids “I delivered that”! Being able to put my engineering stamp on projects is an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience.
What are your memories of Heriot’s?
I have some wonderful memories from Heriot’s, the S6 trip to Alton Towers was a highlight but one that always sticks with me is passing out on June Day and sitting in the side tent getting Lucozade tablets, and repeating this process every year!
My best memory is when I found some timber and Mr Laing from Design & Technology let me use the machinery during lunch (with his guidance of course!) to make a beautiful chopping board which I still use today. Mr Laing was a fantastic teacher and sparked my love for joinery which is how I relax in my free time these days. During lockdown has been a chance to build some beautiful refurbished scaffold shelves and tables!
What are your two ‘takeaways’ from Heriot’s days?
Cherish the relationships you have. My closest friends today, are from my days at Heriot’s. The people (both teachers and pupils) are what makes it such a brilliant school and wonderful experience.
Make the most of the opportunity you have to learn from the wonderful teachers and experience. Heriot’s provides a lot of support to help you learn and get the career that you want, so take full advantage of it!
Any top tips for current pupils when planning their future?
My main tip would be not to panic or stress out if you don’t get the A+ grade that you wanted. If you work hard, you’ll get to where you want to be. Heriot’s is a fantastic stepping stone in your life and will help you but you also need to make the most out of the opportunity you’ve been given by being a Herioter.
Don’t feel pressured or rush into picking a career path when you’re leaving school, make sure it is something you love and want to learn more about because you’re going to end up doing it for a while!