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Ladies' night

Your career - Women in engineering

This year's Institution dinner will have an extra dimension, as 11 professional women sit together on the same table, in a demonstration of the powerful positions now occupied by women in the civil engineering industry.

It is the first time in the long history of the event that a table has been occupied exclusively by women and it is something which organiser Pauline Reith is justifiably proud of. 'In coming together, the women - all influential in the engineering aspects of transport related industries - are showing that there is an effective network of women covering all areas of the industry.

This will only benefit the businesses that they represent.'

Reith wants the table to set an example to which all women can relate, in both their professional and personal lives as working wives and mothers.

The ICE's annual dinner has traditionally reflected the makeup of the Institution in that it has been dominated by men.

The table demonstrates the increasing influence of women in the industry and in the Institution, and will hopefully encourage more women to get involved in engineering and ICE affairs.

Barbara Barnes Head of freight at Railtrack, Barbara Barnes is responsible for setting the company's goals for freight access. A career railwaywoman, she joined British Rail as a junior member of staff in 1977. She held a variety of positions at British Rail, including spending three years setting up and running the Youth Training Scheme in Cardiff and Bristol.

Suzanne Mercer Suzanne Mercer is a partner with law firm Eversheds, and handles a wide range of commercial and IT related work. Having acted for the SRA since 1997 she has developed an extensive knowledge of the rail industry, and led the Eversheds team acting for the SRA which granted the recent replacement Chiltern franchise for M40 trains. She also advises in relation to competition law, intellectual property law and public procurement rules, and is a regular seminar speaker on a variety of subjects.

Sylvia Wassermann Sylvia Wasserman is one of the professional heads within the technical directorate at Railtrack, responsible for traction and rolling stock. She has spent 10 years in the rail industry, including managing the engineering organisation on London Underground's Central Line, and restructuring the Underground's capital investment in track replacement. A single parent, she has two children, both undertaking degrees. She believes engineering is and always has been creative, a message she feels is now getting across to young people of both sexes.

Iryna Terlecky Irnya Terlecky is the acting executive director for London and the South East at the Strategic Rail Authority, responsible for a £500M budget and a staff of 45.

Activities include managing and developing franchise contracts with 13 train operating companies, and developing high priority SRA projects such as Thameslink 2000 and Crossrail.

Pauline Reith Since graduating from Edinburgh University Pauline Reith's entire 25 year career has been spent in civil engineering. After an initial period with Balfour Beatty, she spent 11 years working for BP Oil as a project manager, including three years in the US.

For the past seven years she has been involved with the UK railway industry, including a spell with Railtrack, before establishing her own company Reith Project Solutions. She is currently working on the CTRL at St Pancras.

Yvonne Barton This year Yvonne Barton was named as one of 50 key women working in energy by the magazine Commodities Now.

She is currently working on two major Italian infrastructure projects and holds a visiting professorship at Rome Luiss University. She has bases in England and in Italy, where she has a smallholding which yields enough wine and olive oil for her family and friends. Her background is in geotechnical engineering, and after several years at BP she moved to British Gas where she worked extensively abroad on high level diplomatic activities.

Julia Clarke Executive director for freight at the Strategic Rail Authority, Julia Clarke has responsibility for developing the SRA's freight strategy to meet the government targets of an 80% increase in the next 10 years.

Before her appointment with the SRA she established - and for 10 years ran - the Rail Freight Group, and has also run her own consultancy, Clarke & Company. She was a non executive director of English Welsh & Scottish Railways, the UK's biggest freight operator.

Allison Ingram As major projects director for Stagecoachrail, Allison Ingram's role is to focus on the delivery of new trains and new infrastructure for the various rail companies Stagecoach owns. She describes her role as managing risk, timescale and cost, which involves dealing with the impact of supply chain problems and reaching appropriate compromises.

Nicky Gavron Nicky Gavron is the deputy mayor of London and the mayor's cabinet advisor on spatial development and strategic planning. As the major planning advisor she is an observer on the Transport for London board, and has a long track record in formulating policies to stimulate integrated transport. She is also a member of the Commission for Integrated Transport, and chairs the National Planning Forum.

In 2001 she was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from London Guildhall University.

Janet Goodland Janet Goodland is Railtrack director for London. Her work involves heading the sponsorship and development of Railtrack's involvement in the major rail projects planned for London and the South East. She has been heavily involved with the Thameslink 2000 project for the past four years, as well as being responsible for Railtrack's role in the East London Line Extension and Crossrail.

Elspeth King Currently on a year's maternity leave following the birth of her first child last December, Elspeth King is an associate director in the business solutions arm of the Halcrow Group. Before this she was mainly involved with project value and risk management, as well as acting as project manager for the £200M contract to upgrade 160 stations on the South Central railway network. She has served on the ICE Local Association committee for six years, and has recently been appointed to the ICE Engineering Management Board.

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