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Breaking barriers: The rise of women estimators in the civil engineering industry

10th July 2024

Barhale has an amazing team of women working both in operational and support roles. Our female staff carry out vital roles and support our civil engineering and infrastructure services across the water, transport, built environment and energy sectors. Women within our business are breaking boundaries and promoting gender equality within still traditional male-dominated roles. With this in mind, our series celebrates key women within our business. Focusing on the estimating department, trainee estimator Alina Cosavanu talks to our Comms department about her role and journey so far with Barhale.

Alina’s background and how she started at Barhale                                               

“I studied a Bachelor of Engineering in Geodesy Engineering Technical University in Romania, which I completed in 2017. My now husband had already secured a place as a graduate the year before, as Barhale had advertised at the University and I also applied and got the position of graduate engineer in 2017.”

Promoting from within

Barhale advocates promoting from within and managers were able to see Alina’s exceptional capability right from the start. Alina has been on a fast-track career since her appointment and the leadership team could see her invaluable contribution to the business and recognised her efforts by promoting her to site engineer in 2018, section manager in 2020 and sub-agent in 2022.

Experience gained

When talking about her duties in the various roles she has had, Alina details her role and the experiences she has gained, the challenges she has had to overcome as well as the recognition she has received for her work.

“I’ve worked mainly on tunnelling projects and have overseen all engineering aspects for the projects. For example, and to demonstrate how challenging some of the projects were, I worked on one project working with two tunnels from the same shaft and it was difficult to manage. The big challenge on the project was that we had two TBMs running simultaneously from the same shaft, with an old brick egg-shaped sewer still flowing live while driving the tunnels. We had to implement a rigorous check system on both the tunnel lines and the existing sewer to make sure we delivered the project safely and following the highest standards of quality. I rose to the challenge and as a result of the hard work of the whole team working on the North London Heath and Power Project, both the project and I were finalists at the NCE Tunnelling Awards, which was amazing.”

Joining the Estimating team

In recent years, Alina’s personal circumstances changed with her getting married and having a child, so she started to look at where the direction of her career was heading, wanting less unsociable hours and more of a balanced home life. With the full support of her line manager, Alina decided to transfer to the estimating team and become a trainee estimator. Her job now ranges from assisting/shadowing qualified estimators, assessing for future jobs, obtaining prices, liaising suppliers and assessing resources and equipment required. The role is a hybrid position with two days in the office and three days working from home. To support her journey, Alina is undertaking a Highway Estimating & Costing course, delivered by Bath College and is subsequently looking to do a Level 3 NVQ in Construction Operations – Estimating in the near future. Alina is thoroughly enjoying upskilling to deliver her new role. She enthusiastically describes how she is embracing the challenges of being an estimator.

“I like having the opportunity to do work in better ways, I like that I can plan the job myself and find solutions. In my other roles, I would just follow a plan. So I find the contribution I can make is a huge advantage of being an estimator.”

Interests and hobbies

In Alina’s spare time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She has been able to secure friendships and has made firm links within the Romanian community both within Barhale and outside of work which is so helpful being so far from home. Alina also likes travelling, playing tennis and gardening in her downtime. Some final words from Alina and for anyone thinking about a career in Civil Engineering.

“The obvious choice is usually to go into design or consulting, especially for women but men too, after doing an Engineering course, but I would strongly recommend going onto a live site even if it is just for a short while so you can get practical experience.”

Nick Piggott, Bid Manager (Southern region) and Alina’s line manager described Alina’s progress to date:

“Although Alina has only been in the Estimating team for under 3 months, she has shown a great commitment to working through our internal estimator training programme and really has thrown herself into the role. She has progressed so quickly that she is already using the CANDY estimating software and with her previous construction knowledge from working on site, she is compiling programmes and pricing up her first tenders.”

We wish Alina all the best as she continues her training within the estimating department.