Dr Sarah Williamson, Bylor’s Construction Technical Director at Hinkley Point C, has been named as one of the top 100 Most Influential Women Leaders in Engineering UK and Europe.
The list, announced at the Women in Engineering Leadership Conference in October, placed her fifth in a list of 100. It recognises Sarah’s inspiring and innovative leadership in the construction industry and, more recently, the positive influence she has had on the Hinkley Point C Project. As well as leading the engineering teams for Bylor, Sarah leads the way in construction innovation and promoting diversity and inclusion. Sarah is pioneering the large-scale use of 3D digital engineering to develop a new approach to construction.
She said: “There are so many inspiring women leaders in construction, so I didn’t expect to make the top 100. I was absolutely astounded to be announced at number five! I’ve had some lovely comments from colleagues and friends – it’s been truly humbling.”
The daughter of a builder, Sarah was the first person in her family to go to university. That decision was not an obvious one to her at the time and neither was a career in the construction industry. She said: “Construction wasn’t seen to be a natural career choice for a girl while I was at university. While I grew up understanding construction and my first jobs were on building sites, it took me quite a long time to realise I could make it part of my career.”
As Construction Technical Director at Bylor, Sarah is able to combine her awareness of the industry, her technical knowledge and her experience of managing teams. She said: “My career path maybe wasn’t the most direct but it all makes sense now – everything’s fallen into place. I heard recently that many women hit their stride at 50, and that struck a chord with me!
“My advice for others would be not to accept stereotypes. Often, the construction industry is looking for people with different skills, not just physics and maths. You might need to be really organised, or creative, or have excellent communication skills or analytical expertise.”
Sarah is also a big believer that any successful team should be built from a diverse range of experience and backgrounds. “As a woman in construction, I balance the importance of being a role model with a feeling that I’m an engineer first and being a woman is incidental. In the wider industry and at Hinkley Point C, I’m starting to see that things are changing. I see more and more women on site, looking confident in their PPE. And while there’s still a long way to go, that’s fantastic.”