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A day in the life: Hayley Wakeford

Published on February 28, 2023

Hayley Wakeford is a contract engineer at MWH Treatment, an RSK Group company, which delivers integrated design-and-build solutions to the UK water sector. In addition, for the past four and a half years, Hayley has been working with the Institute of Water in South East England and currently volunteers as the area forum representative. During her time working in the water industry and at MWH Treatment, Hayley has been offered many opportunities by the Institute of Water that have shaped her career and championed her as a woman in water.

Hayley Wakeford
Hayley Wakeford

“As a contract engineer, I am responsible for the management of subcontractors on our projects for the Thames Water region, and I help to drive the procurement strategy for each of the projects that I work on.”

In her role, Hayley has the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues across different disciplines and on multiple projects, supporting and delivering work on-site.

“I work with all parts of the project delivery team, from design and management to subcontractors and internal stakeholders. We collaborate to ensure we are delivering an efficient project, in both time and cost, for our clients.

“The part of my job I love the most is having boots on the ground! Seeing the months, if not years, of hard work starting on-site is hugely rewarding. For example, watching pumps that have been designed, manufactured and tested for over 12 months being turned on for the first time is a job well done! It is truly satisfying knowing that the hours of planning, the visits and the decisions that were made were worth it and that I have helped to deliver a project that showcases the best of everyone’s hard work.”

Showcasing that hard work brings together the skills and expertise of a large team.

“The team I work with has multiple layers. There is the project delivery team who, at its core, is around 10–20 people, as well as the internal stakeholders and the supply chain, who help us to deliver these projects. Last but not least, there is our contract manager and the team around them. We all help and support each other on our projects by sharing lessons learnt on how to make projects run more efficiently and being a sounding board for the challenges we are facing.”

Hayley has come to find that working in such a large team does have its challenges.

“Effective communication can be challenging. Everyone has busy days often filled with a lot of meetings, so one of my tasks is ensuring that the right people are part of the conversation when they need to be and keeping everyone informed. I try to do this in well-structured and time-managed meetings. We work at our best when everyone is kept in the loop.”

As to her future at MWH Treatment, Hayley is keen to continue progressing in her career.

“I’m most excited about taking that first step as a project manager; it is a role I have worked towards since my very first day in the industry. I came to be involved with the Institute of Water very early on in my career, which is an organisation dedicated to providing development opportunities for those working in the water industry. It has connected me with mentors and a nationwide network of professionals who have helped me with my own professional development and supported me with my career progression within the industry. It has always been my safe space where I have been given multiple opportunities at conferences and events to discuss the challenges women face in engineering and in the water industry, and this has really helped shape me into the engineer I am today. It supports everyone in the industry, from engineers and customer service advisers to technicians and scientists, all those who work in water. I really cannot speak more highly of the Institute of Water: without it I would not have progressed to where I am today.”

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