Atkins' Highways & Transportation business employs 3,200 people and is split into three consultancy areas: transport planning, transport solutions, and highways services.
Commissions range from large projects such as the M25 widening and Dubai Metro to long-term asset management contracts with the Highways Agency and high-level strategic advice to government.
'Some people think Atkins is big and ugly, ' says Highways & Transportation managing director Neil Thomas. 'But our size means we have the broadest possible spectrum of activities within the highways market. We have the exibility to create a large team to deliver a major project but, equally, the programmes we do for local authorities involve relatively small schemes that give young engineers the chance to get client-focused experience.' Thomas says he sees a strong future for highways and transportation, and for Atkins' role in the sector. 'The diversity of our business means that whatever way the market develops we can react to that, ' he explains. 'The move towards bigger, more complex projects and long-term contracts plays to our strengths.' The firm has picked up four out of ve contracts awarded by UK local authorities for integrated service management, and this year scored the highest CAT (Capability Assessment Toolkit) rating of any consultant in the sector.
Simon White has been with Atkins since spending the sandwich year of his degree working for the rm's water business in its Bristol ofce. 'It was one of the few companies I applied to, ' he explains. 'I was attracted by the size of the company and the range of opportunities. I was really keen to make the most of that year, and the interview with Atkins made it clear that I would have a reasonable amount of responsibility.' That proved to be true, and has continued throughout White's career so far. After graduating in 2000 and joining the company full time, he found himself project managing a £1.2M scheme just a year later.
In 2002 he moved to the Somerset Highways Partnership - Atkins' long-term highway maintenance contract with the county council - on a six-month secondment to get the site experience needed for ICE membership, and ended up staying.
Five years later, he is works manager responsible for six depots, 91 operatives and 18 supervisors, highway improvement schemes up to £500,000, and a service management centre.
'New opportunities get presented very frequently, ' he says. 'If I carry on as I am, there's the chance to get into a senior position very quickly.'
Atkins' prole and workload attracted Suzanne Moore to join in 1997 after two years' experience with another consultant.
'As a graduate I was looking for site experience and I could see how I would achieve my goals of getting chartered and getting lots of good experience along the way, ' she explains.
That experience has included team leader roles working on the A120 Stansted to Braintree, M27 Glasgow Southern Orbital and M1 widening schemes, as well as a six-month stint in Hong Kong working on a feasibility study to extend the East Rail under Victoria Harbour.
For the past 18 months, Moore has been deputy project manager for Junctions 6A to 10 of the M1 widening project.
'Each role I've had so far has been a step up from the last, so I'm always progressing, ' she says.