Behind the Job - Madeleine van Kessel, Assistant Resident Engineer at Sirius

  • 2nd May 2023

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to pursue a career as an engineer?

I originally studied Environmental Management at Northumbria University and after graduating I fell into working in optics. However, I was still passionate about engineering keeping up with the latest industry news, listening to podcasts and online lectures in my free time.

It was during Covid when I decided to take the plunge to change careers and I applied for an Environmental Engineering masters at Newcastle University. Since then I've never looked back!

What are your overall impressions of the engineering industry?

So far, my impressions of the industry are really positive. I’m so glad that I decided to pursue a career in engineering. I love the variety and that I’m always being presented with new opportunities to expand my knowledge and develop my skills.

What key skills do you need as an Assistant Resident Engineer?

Strong communication skills and close attention to detail are essential for an Assistant Resident Engineer. To be successful within my role, I need to understand the needs of others and establish how I can best support the wider team onsite. In my experience, staying curious and asking questions are also key to success and continual development.

What does your typical day look like?

It varies depending on the season due to working outside as well as on the type of sites I’m assigned to. Generally, I’m based on residential sites right across the North East, and even sometimes work across multiple projects at once.

A typical day starts with a team catch-up. I meet with the site manager, check my emails and get a feel for which tasks most need my attention. I usually begin and end each day with a site walk-around. It is a great opportunity for me to establish the progress that has been made, the tasks which are currently underway and identify any upcoming jobs which require my assistance.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The best part of my job is that I get to work outside. I love being surrounded by nature and no matter the weather I would always choose to be on-site rather than in the office.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career like yours?

The best advice I could give would be to ask lots of questions. It is advice that is vital on the job as well because staying curious and getting involved in meetings and discussions is key to expanding your knowledge and continued professional development.

I would also say follow your passion. My experience has taught me that it’s never too late to pursue a career change - the perfect job is out there, you just sometimes need help finding it.

How did you find working with the team at Coleman James?

I had a really positive experience working with Beth Cullen, Associate Director of Construction, and the wider team at Coleman James. Throughout the whole process, Beth kept me up-to-date with the latest developments, provided great advice, constructive feedback and ensured I was well prepared ahead of my interview. I absolutely love my job at Sirius and it’s all thanks to Beth and the team.