Carole Bayliss: If it wasn’t for WISE I would not be a civil engineer today
1 July 2014
Carole Bayliss is a Senior Route Asset Manager with Network Rail. She joined the rail industry straight from University as a graduate and then became a Track Engineer in her 20’s. "At that time there were no other lady track engineer’s nationally and I was still very young, but that is changing. There are more and more girls entering the profession in all areas of engineering. I loved the role where I was out and about on the network inspecting and managing the maintenance of my section of track and managing the maintenance teams across my area."
When did you hear about WISE?
I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry ‘A’ levels and knew nothing about engineering at that time. I had no family members who were engineers and I really didn’t understand what career options were available to me. My 6th form college introduced me to WISE and encouraged me to get involved with some university open days aimed at showing girls what engineering was all about and enabling us to consider opportunities in science and engineering. This opened up a window for me to see what engineering was all about. I was very fortunate that I had already selected appropriate subjects at ‘A’ level.
How were you involved with WISE
I visited Salford University through WISE and spent a few days with a group of other girls visiting the various engineering departments to learn about the subjects on offer. This was really great for me as we stayed overnight in student accommodation with the other girls and saw a bit more of university life. This was my first exposure to University life and this confirmed that for me a degree was the next step in my career. During this visit I decided civil engineering appealed to me and I wanted to know more so again through WISE I visited Imperial College in London and got to meet university students who showed us around their departments and explained all about the civil engineering course. I was hooked.
How did this influence your subject/career choices?
I had already made my ‘A’ level choices (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) so WISE didn’t influence my subject choices. However, that was only because I had chosen subjects that I liked and had good GSCE results in. I really had no idea at 16 what I would end up doing with my career or even my further education beyond 6th form. Without the influence of WISE I would never have even considered engineering as a career simply because I didn’t know anything about it. I would have pursued a career in Maths and probably studied that at University. The opportunity WISE gave me not only introduced me to civil engineering but a whole host of alternative science and engineering options – any of which I could have pursued at university and beyond.
"I can say with confidence that if it wasn’t for WISE I would not be a civil engineer today."
What was your most memorable moment?
Gosh – there are so many…. I remember quite vividly my first night in the halls of residence at Salford University on my WISE visit not knowing quite what I was letting myself in for and what the visit would involve. I remember my visit to Teesside University where I decided to study Civil Engineering and meeting the students that would become lifelong friends. I am still in contact with many of my university friends as we have all progressed through our careers and each one of us has taken a different path in civil engineering post grad. This demonstrates the diverse nature of engineering and how variable your career can be even when you have all studied the same course. I have lots of key moments since starting work in 1993 from learning new skills, meeting new people, developing as an engineer and now managing a group of engineers in their varied roles.
Were you influenced or inspired by anyone?
I had no early influence in the role of science or engineering as I didn’t really know what I could do with these subjects. My mum was always a confident person who encouraged us all (3 daughters) to further our education and to look at all opportunities available to us. My primary school teacher was a big influence on my early years and helped me to have the confidence I have today. She encouraged my progress in maths and this continued into secondary school. My form teacher was a maths teacher and through him I flourished and took my GSCE early.
What was your career path?
I joined British Rail in 1993 as a technical officer in civil engineering. After a few years I moved into track maintenance where the majority of my technical career was spent. I was a track maintenance engineer on the west coast mainline managing the frontline inspection and maintenance teams for my area. I progressed into an Infrastructure Management role where I spread my wings into managing signalling and electrification teams as well as track. Having spent the bulk of my career in the front line maintenance world I moved into asset management two years ago and I now lead the track and civil engineering teams for the Birmingham and Manchester offices looking at the long term strategies for the assets. This includes aligning our renewals and maintenance strategies to the overall Network rail policy for asset management.
What advice do you have for other young women considering a career in the profession?
- Try and find out as much as you can about what is on offer and what you will be able to get involved with.
- Look into opportunities involving the subjects you are interested in and really enjoy – that way you will always enjoy your eventual career.
- Ask your college to help you through organisations such as WISE to find out more.
- Look for opportunities for work experience to get an insight into what I think is a fantastic career.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advise and support. There is plenty available.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a civil engineer and the most challenging?
The variety of work you can be involved in is by far the most rewarding aspect for me. I rarely find myself doing the same thing two days running. We have fantastic people in the industry who are passionate about the career and the opportunities both in UK and abroad which can become available to us. Being able to follow through schemes from a concept / idea through construction to completion is brilliant to be a part of. I have only ever worked in the UK (through choice) but there are so many opportunities available abroad for those wishing to travel with their career. The most challenging aspect of my role currently is the interaction with the many departments within a complex organisation like Network Rail. I am a good communicator which helps immensely but I do have to work with many different parts of the business which can have its challenges.
To celebrate our 30th anniversary, WISE blogs in 2014 feature women who remember WISE in the early years. Please add your comments in response to the blog below and find out more about the history of WISE.