A WOMAN who has dedicated most of her career to improving Scotland’s water network has been named one of the UK’s 50 most influential female engineers.
Belinda Oldfield is delighted to be recognised on the first ever list of its type to mark National Women in Engineering Day.
Now the accomplished civil engineer, who has risen to be a General Manager with Scottish Water, hopes the list will help inspire more women into engineering careers.
She said: “My degree in civil engineering has given me an incredibly rewarding career which I love. To be included in the Top 50 list among such stellar company is an incredible honour.”
Over recent years there has been a major drive, known as STEM, to attract more girls and young women into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics where, for decades, such disciplines have been dominated by men.
The Top 50 list celebrates women who have made a major contribution in Engineering and the increasing range of prominent roles undertaken by women in the sector. Names on the list include popular BBC Breakfast presenter Steph McGovern, a former engineer who works to encourage the next generation into engineering, and Chi Onwurah, MP, the only female engineer in Parliament.
Other big hitters include Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering; Naomi Climer, President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology; and Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, former Chair of the Health and Safety Executive and now Chair of EEF the Manufacturers’ Organisation.
Belinda added: “There have been changes over the years and it is brilliant to see so many women making their mark across such diverse roles in the engineering sector.
“In any field, talent is talent and I think we need to get to the point where we won’t think in terms of male engineers or female engineers – just experts who get the job done irrespective of gender. I hope that this Top 50 List shines a light on the incredible careers that girls are missing out on because they perhaps don’t know where engineering qualifications could take them.”
Belinda studied at Abertay University, where she graduated with a BEng Hons in Civil Engineering. She also completed a Masters in Business Administration sponsored by Central Region, where she started her career in water. Since then she has spent over 20 years in the water industry.
She started her career as a graduate engineer in the private sector and then moved to Central Region Water & Drainage. She became a chartered engineer and quickly moved on to managing a number of projects at the time the regional water & drainage departments were being re-organised to form three Water Authorities. She was then promoted to Capital Investment Manager in East of Scotland Water responsible for managing the water investment programme.
While her early career was driven by her engineering expertise, she was promoted into more senior roles focusing on how Scottish Water is regulated and financed. In 2001 she was part of the merger team which created Scottish Water from three existing water authorities in Scotland. In 2002 Belinda moved into the role of General Manager for Regulation and Risk and was one of the key figures who worked towards making a success of the regulatory framework in the water sector in Scotland.
Since 2002 the publicly owned utility has gone on to become one of the best performing water companies in the UK, delivering record levels of water quality , while bills are on average £38 a year less than those in England and Wales.
Since 2014 Belinda has been Scottish Water’s General Manager for Revenue and Corporate Risk Management. She is responsible for revenue from 2.5million customers and 160,000 businesses and for managing the wholesale market, as more retailers come into the competitive water retail market. She is also responsible for Scottish Water’s corporate risk management, working to ensure any risks are identified and managed in in delivering operational services to customers and investing in new assets.
Belinda is the Scottish Area President of the Institute of Water with responsibility for professional training and development in the Scottish area. She was also appointed as Non-executive Director of Highlands & Island Enterprise in April 2016.
She added: “Throughout my career I am fortunate that I have been able to work with a network of people in Scotland and more widely in the UK who have supported me in my work at Scottish Water and beyond.”
The names of more than 900 women in engineering roles were put forward for consideration to be included in the Top 50. The final list was pulled together by a panel of esteemed experts and the candidates represent a broad range of engineering roles.
Dawn Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Women’s Engineering Society who is also the founder of National Women in Engineering Day, said: ‘We had a very high response to this campaign and were hugely impressed with the entries.
“This list of amazing role models is a great way of raising the profile of our talented women engineers and making them more visible both within the industry and to the next generation.”
The praise was echoed by Shirley Campbell, Director of People at Scottish Water, who paid tribute to Belinda’s achievement in being included on the list
Shirley said: “Belinda’s recognition is wonderful news. Her contribution to the work Scottish Water does is invaluable and we’re all so pleased that she is making an impact on the industry and helping to give an example to girls and young women everywhere.”