Carmel College former student Sian France has been recognised for her work on the Waterview Connection Project by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

Ms France, technical director for Hydrogeology at Beca, was involved in implementing a major design change on the Waterview Connection project, achieving a positive environmental outcome and significant cost savings for the project. Beca is an engineering and related consultancy services company in the Asia-Pacific.

Ms France won the Outstanding Achievement in Design Award at the third annual Hays National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Excellence Awards.

She said she was surprised and humbled to have won the award amongst a group of inspirational women.

“I want to acknowledge the contribution of the other engineers, planners and constructors who worked on the Alliance and helped to achieve the design change,” said Ms France.

Ms France told NZ Catholic she originally wanted to be a volcanologist.

“I took a part time contract at Beca to fill in some time before I started a PhD, but once I started working it opened my eyes to the role of geology in engineering,” she said. “It’s pretty neat to have a job where the work you do contributes tangibly to major projects.”

She encouraged young women not to “be afraid to look outside your specific area of interest”.

“I am pretty lucky in that, although I work in a male dominated field I have had some really strong role models, both female and male, and I have never felt that I have had to do more to prove myself,” she said.

“I would definitely recommend finding yourself a good mentor(s) and don’t be afraid to look outside your specific area of interest. People from other disciplines will be able to offer different perspectives.”

She said the support of her mentors meant “I have never felt like ‘a woman in engineering’”.

In her field, Ms France said, “the groundwater side of geology and engineering is a growing area that will become more important as we see continued pressure on supply of fresh water and continued pressure on space such that construction projects are needing more and more to go underground”.

NAWIC said the judges were impressed by her strong leadership skills coupled with well-researched decisions which deliver excellent results.

NAWIC is an organisation that encourages women to pursue, establish and sustain successful careers in the construction industry.

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