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Looking At Progress From A Wide-Angle

Celebrating Women Delivering Projects


This International Women's Day, we're celebrating the fantastic diversity of all our people, whose wealth of ideas and different perspectives enable us to create solutions to some of the world's greatest challenges. Hear below from some of our fantastic project managers.

Natasha Yarvas is a senior project manager currently managing the supervision teams of all Infrastructure and Building Projects in Oman. Natasha always wanted to have a role in positively shaping new communities. “I believe the work that engineers do is essential to prepare the world for tomorrow. This is because we create buildings and infrastructure that will be used by people every day, that will enhance lives and enable communities to thrive,” she says.

Before her current role, Natasha was the Resident Engineer on an airport project that consisted of a 116,000 square meter terminal building and its nine gates. The main challenge of this project was undertaking major expansion works in a fully operational airport. However, as part of the dedicated project team formed by the stakeholders, Natasha and her team came up with a solution that allowed them to deliver and manage the project and mitigate risks in the most efficient possible way. “We devised a carefully-planned solution which involved delivering the expansion in small packages, with the construction team and end-users shifting from one section to another,” she says. “This process streamlined the progress of construction, facilitated a quick transition from one stage to another, and enabled us to complete the construction and operation successfully.”

For Natasha, while she believes there can be challenges for a woman pursuing a career in a male-dominated field, her advice is: “Dive into your responsibilities by working hands-on, accepting the challenges, and staying focused on your mission. And if you are an engineer, a wife, and a mother, maintain a healthy work-life balance by managing your time and focusing on quality rather quantity.”

As a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Senior Manager, Mounia Badran was first exposed to GIS when studying at university. “At school, I was good at math, so the natural path at that time was to choose to continue my studies in engineering. Fortunately, during my graduate studies, K&A had equipped the AUB labs with GIS software. This is when I found my path as I fell in love with GIS technology. And I still am.”

For Mounia, who has over 20 years of experience in GIS and project management, working in a traditionally male-dominant sector was never an issue. “I’ve faced many different types of challenges, from working in a multicultural environment to staying abreast of the latest technologies. But as a K&A GIS member, I’ve always had access to the right support, material, and resources to overcome them. To me, this is what makes everyday work more interesting.” One of Mounia’s proudest moments is obtaining and maintaining K&A’s GSI CMMI certification. “To deliver the same quality of services across all our branch offices, we had to define standard procedures, forms, and templates for our GIS processes,” she says. Several training sessions were held to educate all GIS staff, elevate their knowledge, and prepare them for the certification. “We either pass as a team or fail as a team. We passed the certification, and we have renewed it twice already,” added Mounia.

From our Dubai, UAE office, Senior planning engineer, Samar AbdelFattah was encouraged by her parents into architectural engineering, and worked hard to achieve project management qualifications early in her career. “I remember when I was around eight years old, I started sketching our house floorplan without knowing what I was doing. When my father saw me, he started guiding my little drawings by explaining and introducing me to drawing and sketching,” Samar explains.

Now thriving in her career as a project manager, Samar has worked on many challenging projects, one of which is the award-winning Al-Habtoor City. She was the senior planning engineer responsible for the overall evaluation and control of the project’s schedules, maintenance, and monitoring of the planning activities. “What was special about this project, is its vast scale and its huge number of stakeholders,” says Samar. “The construction works started in parallel with the design activities, so it was challenging to create a well-coordinated program that included all involved parties.” A huge task such as this saw Samar and other teams working closely with more than 150 companies and a workforce of 5,000 people from 36 countries during the project peak. “Every time I visit this remarkable building, I can’t help but feel proud to have participated in the process of bringing those three hotels to life,” she added.

Samar advises women considering a STEM profession to live by these four pieces of advice: "Feel the fear and have the courage to do it anyway; choose to see the beautiful side of everything, and let that choice work wonders in your favor; own the change that you want to see in your lives, and the whole universe will have no choice but to present that change to you; and accept both winning and losing, as success cannot exist without failure."

Project manager for transportation projects based in Lebanon, Abir Abou Jneid, has been always fascinated by bridges. "Since I was a kid, I knew that civil engineering is my passion and my way to make a difference,” she says.

Abir is currently working on the NEOM Bay project, which is part of a high-profile giga-project in Saudi Arabia. “This city is a dream, and a dream must be perfect. This perfection requires full concentration and full dedication; that's what I’m trying to do by giving my time and effort, and frequently traveling to sites,” she says. “Every time a part of the work is done successfully, I feel that my efforts are being rewarded, and I move to a new step with excitement.”

As for the advice she gives to young women considering embarking on a career in engineering, she says: “To be a successful engineer, you have to be passionate about what you do, curious to learn, and eager to grow. Be confident, even when you don’t know all the answers; be patient and ambitious, you have a long path ahead.”

From our Bangalore office in India, Urban Planning and Design Manager, Vidya Udayan Murali found her interest in architecture at an early age. “I remember in my childhood days, how fascinated I was when I saw the drawings of the house that my parents were constructing. I was immediately captured by them, trying to understand how some simple lines and shapes can become real. This is what drove me to become an architect,” she says.

Working on life-changing projects, such as the preparation of the development plan for 71 villages along Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Vidya believes that her role can help make a significant contribution to communities. By 2041, these 71 villages along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, in the State of Maharashtra, will have to accommodate around one million people. “Our role in this project is to help local authorities manage the anticipated population rises in Maharashtra, all while ensuring a high quality of life to future residents,” she says. “This project will create a development that is vibrant, sustainable, modern, and inclusive to attract new investments and create economic competitiveness. I cannot be more proud to be part of this transformational project.”

As for the advice Vidya has to offer to every woman aspiring to work in the engineering field: “Change is good. Embrace it, stay confident, and do your best in every task. Be positive and success will eventually follow.”