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Engineers Week 2018 - Meet Vikki Wardley


On day 3 of Engineers Week 2018 we talk solving puzzles, bearded dragons and staying safe with Vikki Wardley.

As department manager, Vikki leads a team of 60 designers and engineers across three Jacobs offices in the Netherlands, with responsibility for deliverables such as workforce planning, resource allocation, engineering quality, performance assessments, training, hiring new employees, engineering performance improvement, outsourcing coordination and overall team delivery. 

During National Engineers Week, Vikki shares more about her life and her work. 

 

Tell us what you do. 

I grew up in Australia and enjoyed my first 10 years in engineering focused on buildings and infrastructure, including engineering new communities in the red dirt of the Kimberley region. When I got sick of sunshine and postcard beaches, I chose to explore the rich history, tulips and progressive attitude of the Netherlands. After six years working in offshore installation, I am now the department manager for the Civil, Structural and Architectural team in Jacobs’ Petroleum & Chemicals line of business. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering? 

My high school mathematics teacher. I was aiming to be an architect because TV shows often presented architecture as the field that “builds stuff.” My teacher pointed out that architects make stuff look good, but engineers actually make it happen!

What has been your most exciting career moment so far? 

My most exciting career moment was when I “stopped the work” because of a safety issue on a $1-million-dollar-per-day offshore installation vessel. It was an unexpected situation that required quick action. My team’s engineering knowledge gave them insight to see the chosen course of action was unsafe. After heated debate, I overruled the operations team and “stopped the work”. It’s good to work in a time and profession where safety is highly respected, allowing such valuable interventions.  

If you could go back in time and work on any engineering project, what would it be?

Easy! The wheel, so I could spend eternity watching people re-invent it.

What is your favorite part of your job? 

My favorite part is pulling a team of dynamic professionals together to solve puzzles. It’s fun. Also, they pay me for it!

If you’re not in the office, you’re likely…

On a stage in a gym giving a Les Mills aerobics class. 

What would people be surprised to know about you? 

I have a pet lizard named Liz. She is an Australian lizard called a bearded dragon. For the Game of Thrones fans out there – yes, I am the mother of dragons ;) 

What advice would you give to the future generation of engineers? 

In addition to focusing on your engineering, focus on communication and interfaces. This is the most common point of failure across engineering projects. It’s a shame all that complex engineering sometimes goes to ruin due to simple communication gaps.

 


 
Vikki taking in the scenery on one of our Australian projects
 
Scaling new heights on site

Find out more about Vikki's office in the Hague, Netherlands: