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European masters silver medal winner and senior engineering inspector Mary Bowe talks about her role at Transport Infrastructure Ireland:
Describe your role in TII
As a senior engineering inspector, I am responsible for all aspects of the management and delivery of TII capital projects within my region – from the effective development of scheme concepts right through to their timely implementation and compliance with prescribed procedures and standards.
In addition to managing major projects, I ensure the successful implementation of regional schemes, such as bridge renewals, Public Private Partnership (PPP) construction and safety schemes, and pavement and minor improvements.
A member of a regional management team, my duties include liaising with local authority officials – including the National Regional Roads Office (NRRO) staff and their consultants – on the technical, environmental and financial aspects of all road projects.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
A career in engineering can be very diverse and entails a lot more than just technical work. In my role, I engage not only in design and construction issues but also in contract writing and management; procurement; legal issues; dealing with the public and media; and staff management of consultants and regional design offices.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently acting as the authority’s representative on the N25 New Ross bypass, which includes the construction of a 900m-long bridge with two main spans of 230m. On completion, it will be the longest main span concrete extradosed bridge in the world and the longest bridge in Ireland.
Working together with the PPP to overcome the challenges of constructing such a complex, iconic bridge has been a great learning experience for me as a project manager and a civil engineer.
Seeing the scheme delivered in my home town will be the fulfilment of a major career ambition.
How have your past career experiences helped you in your current role?
I have always been involved in road design and the project management of road schemes. Before joining TII in 2005, I worked with both a local authority and a regional design office, where I was responsible for managing consultants and contractors. The experience helped me to develop my industry knowledge and connections, and also gave me an insight into what project managers and local authority engineers are dealing with in terms of progressing major and minor projects, pavement schemes and so on.
Achieving gender parity in engineering is viewed as critical. Do you think women bring particular skills and insights to engineering?
I think every individual, regardless of gender, brings their own unique set of skills and insights to engineering. Women tend to be more empathetic than men, however, and this can be a useful quality when dealing with people affected by large infrastructure projects.
Have you had any female role models to inspire or support you on your career journey?
There are many inspiring women in TII, several of whom work at very high levels within and across the organisation. Geraldine Fitzpatrick, head of roads capital programme, and Karina Downes, regional manager, have been great role models and mentors for me in the regional management team
What inspired you to become an engineer?
As a child, I enjoyed taking toys apart and putting them back together and, as I got older, programmes about historical structures, particularly the Pyramids and Chichen Itza, fascinated and inspired me.
Outside of work, what particular hobbies to you have?
My main interest is the gym and Olympic weightlifting, in particular. I have two silver European Masters medals and several national medals. I am also involved in Roller Derby, which is an all-female sport played on quad skates, and I managed ‘Team Ireland’ at the Roller Derby World Cup in 2018.
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