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WE50 Winner on How She’s Shaping the World We Live In

Top 50 Women in Engineering winner Kelly Jeffery shares her story of what inspires her to make an enduring, positive difference in the world.

In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day 2019, the Women's Engineering Society (WES) has announced the winners of the Top 50 Women in Engineering: Current and Former Apprentices (WE50). The WE50 continues to showcase the extensive female talent across the sector, this year focusing on women currently serving as apprentices or those who have previously undertaken an apprenticeship. Jacobs' Kelly Jeffery is amongst this year's WE50 winners recognized for her contribution to engineering and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

WES President Dawn Childs said of the awards: “Since the inception of the Top 50 Women in Engineering list in 2016, WES has been privileged to be able to identify, and help showcase, some amazing women in engineering. Every year a different focus is chosen to ensure that we can shine a light on female engineers at different stages of their career and who have come to engineering through many different paths. Apprenticeships remain one of the key routes for technical education and subsequently, to qualifying as an engineer. The breadth and depth of roles and industries covered by the entries was simply breathtaking and the achievements of the individual entrants were stunning – we have definitely found another truly inspirational list of female engineers!” 

Shaping the future 

A strong advocate of women in engineering, Jacobs Civil Engineer Kelly shares her insight on what she loves about her part in the evolving world of engineering and how she wants to shape the future. 

From an early age, Kelly could always see a career within engineering; it offered her the opportunity to really explore her creativity. Taking a less traditional route into the industry, Kelly opted for an apprenticeship to combine practical on-the-job experience with day release college study. “I loved how an apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to put new knowledge and skills into practice immediately back in the work place,” explains Kelly. 

A Civil Engineer for the past 10 years, Kelly has already built enormous experience working both in the U.K. and overseason some very exciting highway infrastructure projects. She spent seven years in the U.K. in various engineering roles, before looking to both New Zealand and Australia where the rapid infrastructure growth is driving a lot of exciting and career changing projects. Taking a leap of faith and moving overseas has enabled Kelly to develop both professionally and personally. “I have been very lucky that Jacobs offered me such great support and flexibility to seize these opportunities.” 

Kelly is currently working on high-profile projects including supporting the delivery of ground-breaking roadside technology and intelligent software – a world first striving to improve productivity and road safety on New Zealand’s roads.

Kelly loves to get involved with projects from the very outset so that she can have a key role in helping to shape and develop initial concept ideas and take them through to construction supervision out on site. The most compelling reason for choosing civil engineering, Kelly says, was to have a career that enabled her to redefine what’s possible in the future and make a difference to the world we live in. 

“Civil engineering affects every aspect of our lives and to say I have had a hand in that is pretty awesome,” reveals Kelly. “As a highways engineer there is a real sense of satisfaction felt when you can drive over a road that you have designed yourself knowing that thousands of people are relying on it on their daily journeys.” 

Alongside a rapidly excelling career, Kelly is passionate about promoting STEM. Working as a Jacobs STEM Ambassador, she gives career talks and workshops at local schools to spark interest in the opportunities and champions women in engineering. Humanitarian engineering is her absolute passion and for the last two years Kelly has travelled to Malawi on two separate expeditions. The latest being our Stem Build project, where Kelly led the team of nine inspiring Jacobs women who volunteered their time with other professionals to help build a brighter future for a small community in Africa.

Malawi has an extreme level of poverty and in certain places even basics like clean water and electricity are not available. During my first visit to Malawi as part of a skill sharing expedition I spent time working with students at Rainbow Hope Secondary School, where we delivered several STEM workshops and came away feeling very inspired by the experience,” shares Kelly.

Out of that expedition came the idea of the recent STEM Build Malawi project. Designed to engage the local children and community by promoting education and skills development, through STEM workshops, safety toolbox talks and other sessions, whilst helping to build the STEM classroom block.

The classroom is finished and in good use, and Kelly is now back in New Zealand looking ahead to the next challenge to spark her imagination.

“My advice to others considering this profession? Go for it! Civil engineering is a career where you will always have a sense of purpose and achievement, after all you are shaping the world we live in today!”

Today’s challenges of urbanization, resource scarcity, climate change, digital proliferation and security demand innovative approaches to connect more people and places with the means to live better and work smarter. Curious? Jacobs is hiring!  Click here to view available career opportunities and join us in delivering the promise of a more connected, sustainable world.

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