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A life under the spotlight

What was you biggest break?

My first student placement, I was selected from hundreds of people by Balfour Beatty. Not everyone then would give a girl a go.

What is the toughest lesson you have learnt?

Safety - I have witnessed two fatalities. These have made me realise that safety is not all talk. It's a serious subject, accidents do happen.

What do you enjoy most/least about your job?

Most - the freedom to get on with it and responsibility that goes with that.

Least - the money and the car.

What single thing would most improve your working life?

A pay rise and I suppose a nicer chair in my office.

Who has most influenced your career?

Graham Wren, managing director of Stent and Tony Merricks, chairman of SHD, who have given me the scope of works.

What is your all time favourite project and why?

The Guildhall Extension in London - partly because I helped put the tender together and spent a long time working on the project.All of the job's 167 secant piles (designed to last 'forever') were built during night shifts. It was like something out of a James Bond movie with the lights, machinery and the men - it was quite magical.

One night we ready to start work, but were missing a slump cone. A colleague and I went to 'acquire' a cone from a site near Harrods. I shimmied over the site fence, went through all the coats in the office to find the key for the engineers hut. As I was coming out over the fence three police cars pulled up and quizzed us, but let us off. We used the cone and still managed to get it back to the site before work started next morning.

What is the funniest thing that happened on one of your sites?

About five years ago I was working on the Stewart's Lane Cordline for British Rail. Each 1500 diameter 35 m pile usually took 12 loads of concrete. We were casting one pile and after putting six loads in the hole, the level of concrete in the pile only measured just 2 cu m. The main contractor didn't believe our measurement and told us to put another load in, which had the same result.

The resident engineer and client were called and they said add more concrete, but with no joy. We later found out the pile clashed with another structure and we were filling up the London Ring Main.

What is your life long ambition?

I don't know if I do know - I'll let you know when I get there.

What or whose job would you most like?

A chocolate taster for Thorntons.