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GE jobfile

Helen Edmonds

Helen Edmonds

Age: 30

Senior geotechnical engineer, Geotechnical Consulting Group, a highly qualified group of specialist geotechnical consultants.

Route to the job: 'I graduated from Leeds University in 1990, with a degree in Geological Sciences, and then joined the ground investigation division of Terresearch as an engineering geologist. After two years, I returned to full-time education in October 1992, to take the MSc course in Soil Mechanics and Environmental Geotechnics at Imperial College. Having completed the MSc, I joined GCG.'

Typical day: 'There isn't really a 'typical' day at GCG - it depends on the projects at any one time. I may be working on my own, or as part of a team, liaising with clients and other professionals. I'm expected to prioritise and manage my own workload. Most of my work is office-based, primarily on projects around London with some work overseas. For example, I am currently involved in a study for London Underground on the effects of rising groundwater levels on their infrastructure, comprising geological studies, numerical analysis and risk assessments. Site-based activities can vary from a visit lasting less than an hour, to several weeks/months work on a construction site. I recently spent several months working on site with Kvaerner Cementation Foundations on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link at Ashford, looking at the feasibility of dewatering the Weald Clay prior to tunnel construction.'

Highs and lows: 'Major plus points of the job are working in a small dynamic group, having access to the wide range of knowledge and expertise of my colleagues, and identifying innovative, cost-effective, engineering solutions for our clients. The only downside is working for those clients who don't really want to be advised but need a geotechnical engineer for the sake of appearances (or their insurances)!'

Ambitions: 'To continue to be involved in interesting and challenging projects and, above all, to enjoy what I do.'

Advice: 'I would recommend anyone considering a career in geotechnics to do an MSc. The course at Imperial was a fantastic experience and marked a turning point in my career. An ability to listen to and assimilate alternative views on an issue and yet arrive at your own conclusions is essential. Finally, never stop asking questions, never be afraid to ask for help and if you don't know (or don't understand), say so - if the person telling you to do something can't explain it, then they probably don't understand it either.'

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