Energy, International Women in Engineering Day, INWED2023, MakeSafetySeen, Safety

In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day on June 23, we are sharing how our women engineers #MakeSafetySeen by demonstrating strong safety principles in their work and committing to deliver a safer world through their engineering expertise.

Follow this year’s conversations on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as the AECOM Blog.

Dana AlQadi, an associate vice president in our Energy business, shares examples of how she is prioritizing safety in her work and for her team.

Tell us a little bit about your career journey and your role at AECOM?

I just celebrated my 10-year anniversary at AECOM and have had an incredible career journey. I have an academic background in civil and environmental engineering, with a focus on drinking water quality and treatment and am a licensed civil engineer. My doctorate degree was in engineering management and my dissertation focused on quantifying the impacts of stakeholder engagement, particularly early engagement, on urban water system resilience. When I first joined AECOM, I worked as an engineer in our water group.

After a few years, my work began to expand into emerging topics, like sustainability and resilience. Today, I lead operations for Energy’s west region and lead our strategy and growth around transportation decarbonization, an exciting and important technical area.

My career at AECOM has been filled with lots of wonderful mentorship, especially from other women colleagues, and incredible project opportunities that have shaped my career in a way that feels very meaningful to me.

How do you prioritize safety in how you approach work for our clients?

Currently, one of the largest programs in my region is our Strategic Undergrounding Program (SUG) for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). We are working with SDG&E by providing program management services and supporting their wildfire mitigation efforts to reduce the risk of public safety power shutoffs and improve community safety and reliability. Managing this program is a significant undertaking and is a great example of how our teams prioritize safety both in our program level execution but also in terms of the type of work we do.

Our work with SDG&E represents a core principle of how we approach our work in Energy, where we often address safety by protecting our communities from the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events. By delivering innovative solutions to reduce the risk of wildfires, this work will have a long-lasting impact on communities in San Diego and a legacy of community safety that we are very proud to be associated with.

In addition to our work with SDG&E, we promote healthy and safe communities by supporting our clients on important work, such as fleet electrification, grid modernization, renewable energy, decarbonization, and measuring equity impacts of infrastructure investments on disadvantaged communities. Our collective focus on sustainability and resilience through our delivery helps our communities navigate through the world safely.

What are some examples that demonstrate your approach to strong safety principles?

Demonstrating strong safety principles is often about creating a sense of safety among project team members. This includes ensuring a culture of trust, where everyone has confidence in the direction of the work and feel empowered in knowing where to seek support and raise concerns. We want our teams to feel like if they see something, they can say something. When that culture is present in a team, we are all are more likely to collectively embody strong safety principles and support one another in doing so.

Our larger projects can involve a range of subconsultants and contractors and it is important that they all adhere to our high standards of safety. We implement a ‘one-team’ approach where we emphasize consistent communication, prioritize safety moments at the start of our meetings, and appoint designated safety individuals to support our work.

We also make sure to focus on upfront planning — really assessing the potential risks of a project and developing site safety plans for our work that have an on-site component. We make sure that all our team members are trained on our safety protocols and understand how to report incidents.

We also address safety from a digital perspective. Our teams regularly interact with sensitive information and we make sure that all of our team members know how to properly share, save and protect information related to our projects and our clients. In doing so, we can help maintain safe data quality practices.

AECOM has so many wonderful safety professionals and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work with them and learn from them on our projects.

Originally published Jun 22, 2023

Author: Dana Al-Qadi