"you can go as high as your talent and capacity allow"
A recommendation from a former manager brought Sara to COWI a few years ago. Knowing very little about the company beforehand, the lure of working on Doha Metro, as well as her connection's endorsement of the company prompted her move to COWI.
And she has not been disappointed.
Looking around, Sara sees an organisation where everyone is able to forge a successful career, where women hold leading positions such as senior vice presidents, vice presidents and heads of section, and where colleagues collaborate across borders and disciplines to deliver innovative solutions to their clients.
"That is the spirit of true teamwork and collective achievement, which I find enticing" she says.
"COWI is a company where you don't just dream of making it to the top - you are actively encouraged every step of the way. No matter what career path you choose - whether you want to focus on project delivery, line management, a technical specialism, or business support, there is nothing stopping you from reaching your potential. You can go as high as your talent and capacity allow."
Changing Cultures and Perspectives
Groundwater is her thing - excavation, de-watering and mining.
COWI has allowed Sara to develop her career and combine this with her love of travel.
She's lived and worked in Australia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several more countries and with her recent move to the UK, Sara has experienced her fair share of different cultures.
"Working in different countries has given me a completely different perspective on everything. When you visit a new country on holiday, you tend to see and feel the differences within a social setting. But when you work in that country, you often come to experience a totally different way of working, communicating and collaborating. Working in various countries opened my eyes to how diverse working cultures can be, even on similar projects, and how exciting it is to work for an international company."
Can't help but feel Proud
Sara's job is split into two parts; one part is project management - process oriented, administrative and with a focus on staying in control of budget, resources, risks and time. Sara refers to it as the clerical part of her job.
The other part is finding sustainable solutions to tough technical challenges. This ignites the flame of her professional passion.
One of her most vivid memories is when an unexpected incident involving a tunnel boring machine (TBM) took place.
"With media attention and pressure from all sides, the client was in need of an innovative solution. The team was called in for emergency meetings at 7am every morning for a month, and we worked non-stop to come up with suitable solutions, implement them and finally save the day," Sara remembers with a smile.
"The best part of the whole process was when our solution was put in place. Despite the huge amount of stress we were under at the time, I look back and can't help but feel proud of what we achieved together."
Despite the huge amount of stress we were under at the time, I look back and can't help but feel proud of what we achieved together.
Thinking out of the box
The technical element of the role is what presents Sara with the most challenges, but also gives her the most satisfaction.
"I love it when people come to me with a problem which looks unmanageable at first. Thinking out of the box and collaborating with colleagues outside of my immediate circle is always very inspiring. So I start thinking about the problem, talking to colleagues from other fields and between us, we find a way to fix the issue," Sara reveals. "Very few problems can be solved by a single discipline these days. You need to bring different perspectives together to find the solution."
Very few problems can be solved by a single discipline these days. You need to bring different perspectives together to find the solution.
Relocating to Scotland
This collaborative work ethic is just one of the reasons for Sara's recent promotion to Technical Director. Now based in the UK's Glasgow office, it's a move set to strengthen COWI's grip on the UK's hydrogeology market.
"I absolutely love travelling and have visited 52 countries to date. I'm lucky that I could choose my 'home' office from a selection of global locations, and I still get to travel for work. It's a massive advantage of working in a global company like COWI" says Sara.
I'm lucky that I could choose my 'home' office from a selection of global locations, and I still get to travel for work.
Having worked on a large metro project in Doha, Qatar, and the King Abdul Aziz Road and Infrastructure mega-project in Saudi Arabia, Sara's looking ahead to the projects that will come her way in the UK.
"To have the opportunity to really make my mark and help COWI break into the UK hydrogeology market is incredible. There are so many exciting projects out there at the moment, and I can't wait to bring them into the COWI job list."
Sara has always enjoyed balancing her demanding everyday life with a sound mental state of mind. About two years ago, she discovered a love of flying and now takes to the skies whenever the opportunity presents itself. She leaves the hustle and bustle behind, disconnects from any problems and challenges and instead relishes the contrasting emotions of exhilaration and serenity.
"Flying an aircraft is a delicate task, observing the safety measures and the strict regulations, so one has to be 150% focussed and remain fully aware of audio visual signals in the surrounding environment. I can't worry about work, life, or the all-important matter of what's for dinner tonight. It makes me feel light and peaceful. It's so tranquil up there, and because I live a very hectic life, I need that serenity."
It makes me feel light and peaceful. It’s so tranquil up there and because I live a very hectic life, I need that serenity.