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WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION

Sophie Tucker, 32, is a Metronet project manager on the Waterloo and City Line Tube upgrade in London

I WAS a tomboy at school and wanted to do something practical. My science teacher said 'why not engineering?' and helped me pick the right A-Levels. I didn't really know what it involved but she was right ? it has been the perfect career for me.

I decided I wanted to work in the energy industry.

After five years with Amec's oil and gas division I moved to the operational side with Amerada Hess working on the early stages of the refurbishment of a gas terminal in Scotland. I would have ended up in Aberdeen full-time. I really wanted to stay in London, but not behind a desk. The Underground was the obvious choice. Upgrading the signalling, power and control systems on the Waterloo and City line, my site is beneath my feet.

The hardest things to get to grips with working in my new industry are the processes and assurance requirements. The power industry was fairly heavy in terms of paperwork but the Underground is more so. Safety is all-important but the processes are a bit onerous and there may be ways to streamline them in the future. We have a tight delivery schedule, and because this is one for the first projects on the PPP to go ahead it feels a bit like we're trail-blazing.

I've always had a career plan. My first target was to be a project manager by 30, so it's n ice to be on t rack. By 40 I'd like to be more involved in strategic business management.