Hana Sulaiman

Track Design Engineer, Track Team

What was your route into Engineering?
When I was growing up, everyone I knew who was interested in science was going to be a doctor and I didn’t want to be a doctor. I did like science and art, but I didn’t know what else there was to consider, so I did English Literature at university. I actually started my career at SYSTRA as a member of the Document Control Team. An opportunity became available as they were recruiting for technical entry-level roles across disciplines that did not require previous experience. After two years of internal training and developing technician skills, the company arranged for me to attend part-time study at college alongside my office work. In 2017, I completed my HNC in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering) and I am now a Track Design Engineer.

Is engineering different from what you expected?
In my role as a document controller, I was exposed to the technical side of the rail industry and realised there was a lot more to engineering than I thought. When I first started out on my new path, I was a little overwhelmed by all the information and learning I faced. By taking a step back and looking at what I needed to know, I have been able to develop my knowledge and feel more confident. If you are someone who likes solving problems, then engineering is a good fit. A lot of engineering is solving problems, putting the puzzle pieces together and finding solutions. It is about working with people. There are so many more skills to it than being excellent at maths or physics – how you explain why your solution is good and how you arrived at the solution is just as important.

What is the best part of your job?
I work on projects for line speed improvements line speed improvements and introducing new trains into service, which are all the things that make a difference to people’s journeys and day-to-day lives. I believe that my biggest achievement whilst at SYSTRA has been the rapid growth of my engineering knowledge which has taken place over a relatively short period of time. I also greatly enjoy working as a STEM ambassador and going into schools to promote engineering careers.

What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
It’s about realising the range of people in the industry and that there are people just like you doing it. My advice is to talk to people and ask questions! It is easy to stay in your bubble but if you would like to know more about another role or career path just approach others and ask them about their experience, they will be more than happy to talk about it. I’m a big believer in asking questions – sometimes people don’t want to ask questions because they don’t want to seem like they don’t know, but you’re not expected to know everything, everyone is still learning

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