Beca Graduate Profiles

Meet Beca at the CDES Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Expo!

Felicity Penman

  • Civil Engineer 
  • Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Honours)

Did your career plans change as you studied?
To be honest, I didn’t fully know what engineering involved as I started first year – all I knew was that maths and science were what interested me most and that 'there are plenty of jobs in engineering'. I quickly realised that engineering was so much more than maths and science, and was also about innovation, creativity, communication and problem solving. Civil Engineering was the most appealing specialisation for me, as the projects are physically large (which in my mind meant the most impactful), so I decided to go down that route. I initially wanted to be a Structural Engineer but in my final year decided that focussing on stormwater and infrastructure was more interesting. I also discovered my passion for sustainability and caring for the planet, which has hugely shaped my future career ambitions and will hopefully lead to me being more involved with sustainability in the future.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
Who knows! I can see myself designing sustainable developments and being a part of New Zealand’s adaptation to climate change and dealing with the issues it will bring. I can also see myself as a science communicator educating communities on science, critical thinking, sustainability and engineering. I’d love to be one of those successful working mums that prove women can do anything, and I’d love to be a positive role model for young girls going into STEM careers in their futures. I’m unsure how I will incorporate all of my passions into one ‘dream-job’, but for the time being, I am enjoying how much I am learning and experiencing as a young professional engineer!

How valuable was your internship for you as a student? How did this help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?
My internships gave me the understanding of the engineering industry I needed to make the decisions about papers to take and jobs to apply for whilst being at university. They also forced me out of my little echo-chamber I was in when only collaborating with my university cohort, and gave me invaluable experience working with colleagues from a wide ranges of experiences and backgrounds. Being exposed to diverse opportunities made me excited about working in the industry and reinforced the idea that women are needed and valuable as important contributors to diversity of thinking in STEM careers.

Himani Bhatia

  • Planner
  • Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours)

Did your career plans change as you studied?
Definitely. When I started studying I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I chose planning because I was curious about how systems relating to a city work and the social implications of these.

As I studied, I attended industry events. I realised that as a planner I could work at varying scales - I could work in the strategic space where I would have the opportunity to solve challenging problems, with my decisions influencing how a city responds to community needs - or I could work locally on operational matters that guide day to day decision making. I was drawn to the strategic aspect of planning, and this became a key factor when I started looking for jobs.

I also realised that I could work in the public or private sector. This was one of the harder choices I had to make as both appealed to me: catering for the greater good in the public sector versus having the accountability, resources and certainty in the private sector. One of the main reasons I decided to work for Beca was because although we are private company, some of our biggest clients are in the public sector. This would give me the best of both worlds.

Now I’m working, there are specific sectors within this strategic space that I particularly enjoy, and some not so much. I think career plans can and should be fluid; this allows us to explore different arenas within our fields which I believe makes for a more dynamic worker with a broader range of experiences.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
I still see myself in the strategic planning space because this excites me, but I also see myself pushing boundaries and professional norms to challenge traditional methods which are still being used in the profession today and spending some time discovering new ways to freshen up how planning is taught, understood and implemented.

How valuable was your internship OR work experience for you as a student? How did this help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?
My work experience was invaluable. It taught me the importance of organisation and time management - skills necessary in any career - but they have also enabled me to build relationships and rapport with people. The latter helped me fine-tune my career path, because I realised two things: 1) I really enjoyed listening to different people's needs and wants and 2) coming up with a solution or a way to meet these needs/wants is extremely rewarding.