Pauline’s Story - Graduate Network Modeller, United Utilities

After completing an apprenticeship at United Utilities, and achieving HNC in Civil Engineering,  Pauline is continuing her career progression as a graduate network Modeller. The diversity of roles available in the sector makes progression and on-going learning possible. 

graduate network modeller

Why is your role important? 

Without my role civil engineers would not know if their schemes were adequate to achieve the aims of any project. Whether it be flooding or pollution reduction, Sustainable Urban Drainage System Design or a diversion to allow for new infrastructure. Without modelling they could negatively impact customers/ environment elsewhere rather than improve a situation. Likewise a scheme could be built that does not meet requirements at great cost to the company.  With wider implications for the UK economy from ‘failed’ schemes if detrimental impacts were created or were to continue.

What path did you use to get to the position you hold today? 

I started off by obtaining a BSc (Hons) degree in Geography. During my time at university I became interested in flood risk modelling, mitigation and management. I then sought a career in this area which led to an Apprenticeship at United Utilities where I dealt with customer blockages, flooding and pollution incidences. As part of this I obtained a HNC in Civil Engineering. Post apprenticeship I was in role for 2 years, before I decided to apply the skills I had learnt in Asset Management (one of the placements I originally undertook as part of the apprenticeship). From there my interest in flood risk modelling continued which led to me applying for the graduate scheme in this area at United Utilities. I was successful in this application which led to my current role. If there is a key bit of learning to take from this it would be that even if you make less favourable educational choices you can still strive for your goal, you will get there even if you take an unconventional route.

"Throughout my apprenticeship and now graduate scheme I have plenty of opportunity for training and personal development. Some of this has taken the form of a courses-like my HNC and internal training. Other opportunities are more vocational such as volunteering days, National Apprenticeship Week, Tall Ship sailing, Senior Leader Shadowing and so on. The point is the more you put into your scheme the more you get out of it."

What does an average day consist of?

On an average day I am office based, having said this no day is the same. I’m responsible for managing my own workload which can involve building/ altering models, running and analysing the results from models, writing reports & answering queries. From time to time I need to do site visits to obtain information for the model, or verify what the model is outputting. Going on placements offers a contrast from my main role and helps with my personal development making the graduate scheme a rewarding experience.