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Q&A: Talking with Susana Gozalo, Portfolio Lead for Rail Major Projects

Jacobs’ Portfolio Lead for Rail Major Projects, Susana Gozalo talks career, her STEAM heroes and teaching Zumba to her colleagues.

As the Rail Portfolio Lead for Rail Major Projects, Susana Gozalo leads Jacobs’ growth and operations in the U.K. for major projects and for regional and local government rail opportunities. She also works to operationalize the way inclusion and diversity is part of client delivery as the Inclusion and Diversity Executive Sponsor for Transportation.  

Susana has been a Civil Engineer for over 20 years and in 2018 won the Best Woman Rail Engineer Women in Construction and Engineering Award.

In honor of International Women in Engineering Day, we’re connecting virtually with our team of engineering heroes around the world to showcase their careers and how each of them help Jacobs to live up to our promise of Challenging today. Reinventing tomorrow.

For this feature, we talked with Susana about career, the STEAM heroes who inspire her and teaching Zumba to her colleagues.

Tell us a bit about what you’re working on these days.

I’m currently working on some of the most important rail projects in the U.K., which will contribute to building back better post-COVID-19, and ensuring the mobility needs of the future are catered for in a sustainable way. Examples of the projects I’ve worked on include the Transpennine Route Upgrade, the East Coast Mainline Power Supply Upgrade and the work we’re doing in support of the HS2 Phase 1 project.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

My favorite part of the role is ensuring the solutions our clients ask us to provide are delivered and surpass their expectations. I enjoy getting to know my clients, finding out what their challenges are and then bringing them our best people to develop solutions for them in a collaborative and inclusive way. 

We’re publishing this article in honor of International Women in Engineering Day and this year’s theme is Engineering Heroes. Who are some of the heroes who inspired you to pursue a career in STEAM?

My first engineering hero is my dad. He is a Mechanical Engineer and was always working in his workshop in the basement of our house. He enjoys woodwork too and designed and project managed the construction of our family home. This meant that from a young age there were always things to do in the house and I was allowed to help. My second engineering hero is my mum. She’s not an engineer, but she’s the best primary school teacher I know. She taught me the value of a job well done and the passion for constant learning, and this is something I live by every single day. 

When you think of engineers or engineering as a hero, what does that mean to you?

An engineering hero is someone who puts their intellect and ideas into solving problems and challenges to protect society, while also allowing it to prosper. The evolution of the human race as a species has a lot to do with the contributions of great engineering minds. Applying science and technology to everyday problems, which is what engineers do, is our superpower and we should be proud of the contributions we make to society with our day to day work.   

If you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?

At the moment you’ll find me in my garden spending time improving it and making it nice. This is something I didn’t have the time to do before. The pandemic and having to work from home have given me the opportunity to reconnect with my hidden inner gardener. I am a slow learner though.

Most interesting career moment?

Being at the signature of the 450km High Speed Railway project in Saudi Arabia after so many years of hard work, sleepless nights and negotiations, and then seeing the Saudi-Spanish consortium kick off the project.

What would you rate a 10 out of 10?

The relentless effort of our Jacobs teams trying to make the world a better place for our communities during the last year, all while home schooling children, working from site safely, and generally pulling together and pivoting very quickly to remote working while still keeping the interests of clients and team mates in mind. 

Most proud career moment?

Winning the 2018 Best Woman in Rail Engineer at the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards. It felt like all the years of hard work were validated by peers and industry. It was a very proud moment I’ll cherish all my life.

What advice would you give to young professionals?

The world is evolving - it’s different now and we’re facing tough challenges. We need to rethink our solutions, keep on learning, come up with new different ideas and be relentless about converting them into reality. Don’t listen to the naysayers. If you believe in something, if you’re passionate about your idea, then make sure you follow it through, put in the hard work and see it all the way through to delivery.

People would be surprised to know that I….

Studied music when I was a teenager including a couple of years of piano. I am also a qualified Zumba instructor and some of my colleagues used to exercise with me at lunch time a long time ago.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Jacobs family?

The Jacobs family is a great group of like-minded professionals who have a passion to make the world a better place. From our future leaders in early careers to our key specialists, everyone is driven to bring the best solutions to our clients. I enjoy how everyone takes care of each other – we’ve grown a sense of community that means we’re part of something bigger and better that has purpose.

Join #OurJacobs team

What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable.

We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.

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