On becoming one of CIBSE's youngest fellows

CIBSE logo

Last month I became one of CIBSE’s youngest Fellows.

I was asked by our Comms Team to write a blog post about my career path leading up to this achievement, which I must say I have found difficult! It’s much easier to talk about a project or an area of work you are knowledgeable in. But I would like to share my story to hopefully inspire others to apply for Fellowship and to put themselves forward for the type of opportunities that can lead to it, particularly women (who only account for 5% of CIBSE Fellows).

Early career milestones

After a degree in physics at the University of Cambridge, I attended a conference where Max Fordham spoke passionately about sustainability, which I’ve always cared about. That’s when I decided to combine my love of architecture and passion for mitigating climate change, and applied for a master's degree in Architectural Engineering at Heriot-Watt University. I really loved this course, achieving a distinction, and it was during this masters that I knew this was going to be the right career for me. In 2017, I was invited to be part of the Industry Advisory Panel at Heriot-Watt University for the same course, which has been a real honour as it was a big turning point in my career.

After university, I got a job as energy engineer (later becoming Energy and Environmental Manager) at KJ Tait Engineers, before starting at Max Fordham in 2015. It’s amazing being able to work for the business that inspired me all those years ago!


Time at Max Fordham

I started as BREEAM Manager and Sustainability Consultant, specialising in Building Performance Engineering. I was promoted to Senior Sustainability Consultant in 2017 and became a Partner at Max Fordham in 2021. I now lead both the Certification Team and the Scottish Sustainability Team at Max Fordham and I contribute to overall Sustainability Team management, particularly in terms of resourcing and financial monitoring. In recognition of this responsibility, I was promoted to Principal Sustainability Consultant in April 2022.

I have led many award-winning Sustainability Projects, my favourites being Oriam and The Engine Shed, where I was the Soft Landings Champion. I find building performance engineering, especially the aftercare and Post Occupancy Evaluation processes, particularly satisfying; it’s great to feel that you are playing a part to make a building more efficient and really work for its users and to see the results in practice, monitoring the building after it’s been built. Soft Landings also provides a great process to feedback lessons learnt into future projects.

"It sets a shining example of project delivery that doesn’t need to end at handover" - Judge comment on The Engine Shed

Max Fordham Edinburgh team's group photo, the team is sitting and standing in rows

The Edinburgh office

Other industry involvement

Contribution to the industry

As well as leading project work at Max Fordham LLP, I have participated in various external features and events to promote the industry, such as: writing articles, speaking at conferences and events, and contributing towards Max Fordham's Net Zero Carbon Guide.

I also contribute towards consultations on new policy, particularly in terms of Scottish Building Standards and Sustainability Policy. I also recently led consultancy work to develop the Scottish Government’s new Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard and have participated in small round table events around Scottish upcoming policy related to meeting net zero aspirations in buildings.


Contribution to CIBSE

In 2016 I became a full Member of CIBSE (MCIBSE) and I also became a fully chartered engineer (CEng) through the Technical Report Route with CIBSE in 2019.

I joined the CIBSE Scotland Committee in 2016 and have played many active roles, including joint Technical Seminar Co-ordinator, Communications Officer, setting up a now annual CIBSE Scotland Conference and am currently CIBSE Scotland Regional Chair. Over the pandemic, the CIBSE Scotland Committee stopped apart from the online technical seminars that I organised with the other technical seminar co-ordinator. I want to reinvigorate the region again. As well as ensuring more technical and social events, including another conference, I also want this committee to focus on outreach work. 

During my involvement with CIBSE Scotland I have tried to make it more inclusive. While events such as the annual golf championship are great, attracting many members and sponsorship, I have tried to broaden our scope, with more technical events including the conference and forming partnerships with other groups such as RIAS, SEDA, universities etc. This has brought along several architects, clients, students and policy makers to our events. I think it is very important to collaborate across industry to get the best results. I’d definitely recommend getting involved with an institution; it’s very rewarding and opens up lots of opportunities for you to shape the work the group is delivering.


Supporting the next generation

I am passionate about supporting the next generation into a career in construction, sustainability and engineering. Some work I have carried out has included being a STEM Ambassador and undertaking engagement work to inspire school and university students to pursue a career in building services engineering, being part of the Heriot-Watt University Industrial Advisory Panel, providing guest lectures and mentoring university students during their design projects.

I have also undertaken mentoring for young professionals such as being a mentor for Women in Property and industrial sponsor for PhD students.

Next steps

Well, my immediate next step is that I am about to go on maternity leave again! I mention this as I hope it shows that you can still progress in your career and have a family. I am very grateful for Max Fordham’s flexible work patterns that have allowed me to both enjoy time with my young family and not feel held back in my career.

Also, over the next year, I hope to carry on as CIBSE Scotland Chair and I aim to be an active member of the CIBSE Fellows network and will perhaps in time apply to become an interviewer and to participate on some of their other panels and technical steering groups.

I have also been accepted onto the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard Task Group for Operational Energy. Longer term, I would love to become more involved in similar groups and consultancy work to shape UK and Scottish policy, to advocate for pathways to zero carbon and a more sustainable future.

I would like my career to make a real difference to limit the effects of climate change and over time I would love to be able to inspire others to play their part. I hope this blog has shown you what can be possible and encourage you to apply to become a chartered engineer and fellow.