Assistant Project Manager, Jacobs
Download James’s story
I became a civil engineer to create a positive impact in society. Civil engineering is broad; you can be engaged in different aspects and every project is geared towards improving the lives of others, whether it’s water, structures, or transportation.
During my career, I’ve worked as a regulator to ensure overseas water companies provide quality service to consumers, been involved in the Results-Based Financing project, a $5 million project funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation and worked as a consultant where I got involved in the £38m Rehabilitation of Freetown Water Supply, one of the biggest water projects in Sierra Leone.
Jacobs is very intentional about bringing Black talent on board. I could tell that the company was not interested just to tick a box. I wanted to join a company where I can utilise my skills whilst improving and building my professional career and I see that with Jacobs. This a place I’ll thrive, learn and grow. I also joined Jacobs because of the impact of Harambee, the Black employee network. They were part of the Mayor of London’s workforce initiative project, taking part in a three-day recruitment drive to showcase opportunities in the construction industry for young Black men.
That’s how I learned about a specific role created at Jacobs. Two interviews and a psychometric test later, here I am, working for a company like no other, creating a more connected, sustainable world.
HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project in Europe which is going to increase capacity, reduce carbon and create better connectivity across the UK. To be involved at this point in my career is really huge. The key thing for me is that it’s a stepping stone. Jacobs has lots of opportunities, there are many projects to be involved with to utilise my skills.
I don’t want to become stagnant doing one thing from the start of my career to the end. The good thing is Jacobs wants employees to have different careers within the company. Jacobs has appointed career partners and it showcases and highlights internal opportunities with colleagues which support upscaling and reskilling. It’s not just about recruiting talent; it’s about retaining and progressing talent within the company. When I started I asked people how long they’ve been with the company. Apart from the graduates, most of them said; ‘Oh, five, ten, 20 years’. I want to be that person.
Since I started a few months ago, I have a mentor who’s championing and helping to shape my career, I have regular ‘catch-ups’ with my line manager and we have set targets and discussed my career plans. I recently completed my Masters in Water Engineering at Brunel University.
It’s good to work within a diverse community. During my onboarding I took part in conscious inclusion and advocate and ally training. It’s not just about respect, it’s about acceptance.
We live inclusion’ is a Jacobs value and there’s huge commitment to ED&I. The organisation values health and safety, positive mental health, inclusion and belonging for all employees. Everyone is accepted for who they are, supported and treated equally, and this is reflected in the Global Employee Networks.
There are eight employee networks – I’m a member of seven – that play a critical role in fostering the company’s culture of caring in the work it does and which is centred around offering employees an opportunity to collaborate with others around the world.
Jacobs’ purpose is to create a more connected, sustainable world. All the employee networks have a senior executive sponsor to provide advocacy, guidance and support. The management really takes the responses very seriously and implement measures from issues raised.
My values are aligned with Jacobs’ and the company is already actively implementing things I care about, such as mental health. I’m a member of OneWorld committee for London and also a Positive Mental Health Champion at Jacobs.
Recently the company launched its Inclusion and diversity programme ‘TogetherBeyond’ including a Global Action Plan for Advancing Justice and Equality (AJ&E), which tackles inequality facing Black people at Jacobs and the wider community.
The plan was driven by members of our Harambee in partnership with our Executive Leadership Team and Jacobs’ Board of Directors. The Action Plan sets out actionable initiatives and measurable objectives to address embedded and systemic racial inequalities, both within Jacobs and in communities across the world. All of these strategies are geared towards inclusion in the company.
Jacobs has an aspirational 40, 40, 20 goal. That’s 40% male, 40% female, and 20% of any gender balance across the global operation. There is an annual culture survey and the policies and steps taken are based on responses to this survey from employees, so the company is open and they want to get employees feedback/input to develop strategies and policies.
Jacobs is a disability confident employer and ranked 6th place and won a gold award for 2022 Stonewall Equality Index. For the second year running Jacobs was recognised for its efforts to drive gender equality forward as one of the Times top 50 Employers for Women. It’s obvious you’ll only receive such recognition when external parties actually see the company doing these things.
There are lots of opportunities here. Most opportunities advertised within to make sure employees know of the opportunities available. There’s the Agile careers, employees are strongly encouraged to apply for these opportunities to access the internal opportunities which support upscaling and reskilling.
Specifically for underrepresented groups Harambee actively supports recruitment, retention empowerment and advancement of black talent. There’s also the action plan for advancing justice and equality.
The aim is to achieve true equality across Jacobs but the priority at the moment is to unleash the opportunities for black employees to advance and achieve our ultimate goals. You have mentors that support and champion you. There is really a good career path for me.