We spoke to Gemma Watts, a Junior Project Controller working for Atkins

Can you describe your role in a few words?

I am responsible for the timely issue of schedule information, communication of critical programme deliverables and maintenance of programme information within set timescales.

What were you doing prior to your Apprenticeship?

Prior to my apprenticeship I was working for a forensic science company as a Trainee Drug Analyst. This role involved me testing illicit substances and reporting to the police.

What was your perception of the sector before you started your apprenticeship?

Before starting my apprenticeship my perception of construction was that it would be very male dominated and quite intimidating. I also thought I would be treated differently for being a young woman in the industry. I didn’t realise the vast opportunities that would be available through Atkins for young women in the construction industry.

What interested you in joining Atkins?

Atkins is a world-renowned company with many high-profile projects. The apprenticeship scheme was particularly interesting to me as it showed that Akins are keen on career progression and skill development.

What are the key things you’ve learnt so far in your job?

The top 3 things I have learnt so far would be:

  • Technical skills. Using software such as Primavera P6 and SYNCHRO.
  • Always ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question.
  • The importance of stakeholder management.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

Working as an Atkins apprentice has given me great opportunities. What I enjoy most about my job is meeting new people and being given the opportunity to constantly develop new skills. The most exciting part about my job is being able to go out on construction sites, as I get to see the drawings and programme being built and come to life.

Have you worked on the HS2 project through your apprenticeship? Do you think you will have the opportunity to in the future?

I have not currently worked on the HS2 project during my apprenticeship, however the project I am currently working on (the East West Rail Alliance) have an interface with HS2. Even though I am not 100% sure I will have the opportunity to work on the project in the future, I would love to be involved as it is such a huge and interesting project.

What would you like to do after completing your apprenticeship?

After I have completed my apprenticeship, I am keen to continue my learning and gain additional qualifications. I really enjoy my current role as a construction planner so I would like to continue in a similar role.