Being Pick Everard
INWED 2023 Spotlight: Chandni Odedra
23 Jun 2023
To celebrate the annual International Women in Engineering Day, we put a spotlight on some of the inspiring women here at Pick Everard. This year, Geotechnical Engineer Chandni Odedra discusses her role at Pick Everard, her interest in soil mechanics and ground engineering and what it is like working in the industry, and onsite, as a woman.
What is your position at Pick Everard and what does it entail?
I am a Geotechnical Engineer within Environmental Services at Pick Everard. My job entails a mix of office and site-based activities comprising of but not limited to supervision of site investigations (including drilling and excavation activities as well as supervision of subcontractors), logging and analysing soils and ensuring proper health and safety standards are adhered to. I also am involved in reporting that provides contamination and geotechnical assessments in order to facilitate developments.
Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry
I have always been interested in soil mechanics and ground engineering from a young age. As bizarre as this may sound, I have always been passionate about mineral and rock properties and can confidently say my geological rock collection is one I am exceptionally proud of! Having studied Geosciences (Geophysics, Geochemistry, Geology and Geotechnical Engineering) I graduated and quickly realised the industry would be perfect for me to go into in this country due to the exposure I would have on a daily basis with soils and rock cores. My pure passion for rocks and minerals drove me to where I am today!
What is your favourite Pick Everard project you’ve worked on?
DVA Bamford to Ambergate project has been the most challenging and interesting so far. It comprises 4 new pipelines to be constructed spanning over various areas, the longest being approximately 2.20km. This project has really exposed me to various challenges onsite which has in turn helped with my development, from managing difficult landowners to encountering artesian water. For this project I was the only female onsite (as with most projects) and constantly within the public eye, therefore representation was key.
Why is INWED important to you?
As a minority within the industry, I believe it is important to raise awareness but also to celebrate the success of this initiative. During my studies only 8% of students were women, although I didn’t seem to pay much attention to this at the time. Making my move into the industry the difference was more noticeable. I realised very quickly that most of the time I would be the only female onsite, especially during my years as a graduate. Although, the brilliant thing about this is the progression and change I have seen over the years within the industry. It is inspiring to see how many more women are involved in engineering now. I believe it is important to be represented but also to really pursue something you are passionate about – even if that does mean breaking the mould.
What is your best piece of advice for young women considering a career in engineering?
Go for it – the sky is the limit! The level of accomplishment you feel will outweigh the challenges you face within the industry. The personal and professional development and growth I have gone through is immeasurable and although I have encountered various challenges that I may not have encountered within a more representative field, it has all been worth it. Just remember, stay true to your core values and chase your passion!
What is your hope for the future of engineering?
For the continued growth and representation of people from all backgrounds. It has taken me a lot of time to be respected and to secure my place, being a woman in a male dominated industry – I’ve almost been required to earn my respect based on my gender. As mentioned, it is promising to see the progress and positive change over the years and I hope the perspective and narrative continues to change and we continue to promote inclusivity within the industry.