Q&A Dec 14, 2021

Q&A: Talking with Haley Blackwood, Senior Project Engineer

Haley talks about her role as senior quality engineer on New Zealand’s largest ever wastewater project, the Central Interceptor, what it’s like delivering such an iconic project and what she enjoys most about being part of #OurJacobs.

Meet Haley Blackwood

At Jacobs, we think differently about the future because today’s challenges demand innovative approaches to deliver a more connected, sustainable world. With a fierce commitment to the spaces we inhabit, both globally and environmentally, we’re continually reinvigorating our efforts to be responsible stewards of the natural world, as we contribute forward-thinking sustainable solutions for our clients.

In this series of Q&As, we’re getting to know members of our Jacobs team working on the iconic Central Interceptor project, the largest wastewater tunnel in New Zealand, to deliver healthier waterways and beaches for Aucklanders.

This time, we asked Haley Blackwood about her role as senior quality engineer on the Central Interceptor project, what it’s like delivering such an iconic project, and what she enjoys most about being part of #OurJacobs.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career with Jacobs so far.

I joined Jacobs in 2014 as an environmental/geotechnical design specialist, where I was involved in hazardous site characterization and mine reclamation projects. From there I transitioned into project management, where my roles have primarily focused on risk and quality management for major infrastructure projects and programs in the transit and water industries. There has been no shortage of opportunities with Jacobs - I’ve had the chance to work on iconic projects across Canada, the United States, Rwanda, Singapore, and now New Zealand!

What got you interested in a STEAM career?

Both of my grandfathers were engineers and lived very interesting lives working all over the world. This coupled with my dominant left brain and investigative mindset made engineering a natural fit for me.

Tell us about your role on the Central Interceptor (CI) project.

As senior quality engineer embedded in the quality team on CI, I support implementation, execution and review of the quality assurance and quality control discipline on behalf of our client, Watercare.

On the quality assurance side, I’m highly engaged with process development and refinement across the project, delivering the internal and external audit programs to ensure project compliance with management plans and assessing the efficacy of procedures at achieving objectives. On the quality control side, I’m engaged with the production of high-risk supply chain items such as precast concrete tunnel segments.

Jacobs’ ability to mobilize talent globally sets us apart in our industry. Can you tell us more about this in the context of this project?

Our Jacobs team delivering CI has come from far and wide. Jacobs has delivered projects similar to CI in London, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. And mobilizing a global team that could apply lessons learned from these projects has been invaluable for supporting successful project delivery to date. The diversity of our team is one of our key strengths.

What has been your most memorable moment delivering this project so far and why?

We recently held a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) cutting through event to celebrate our TBM setting off on its journey of nearly nine miles (15-kilometers) – a major milestone. The event was a unique opportunity for the project staff to bring our families to the site and showcase what we’ve been up to and the scale and complexity of the works up close.

Tell us about your most memorable career moment.

One of my most memorable career moments was working on a mine reclamation project in Yukon, a northern Canadian territory. It was the end of summer, and bears were desperate for last-minute food before they hibernated for the winter. This meant they were not at all phased by the sound of drill rigs and equipment operating all over the site. The project had to hire a full-time “bear watch” role, whose sole responsibility was to radio us to hop in our vehicles when bears approached the work area. I had the chance to see quite a few grizzly bears from only a few meters away.

If you aren’t in the office or on-site, what would we most likely find you doing?

Sightseeing around beautiful New Zealand (NZ) with my husband; lots of weekend hiking with a goal of crossing off all of NZ’s “Great Walks” and working to (significantly) lower my golf handicap!

What do you enjoy most about being part of Jacobs?

The opportunity to deliver challenging, world-class projects and the inspiring and intelligent colleagues I work with. There is never a dull moment!

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.