Introducing Senior Site Agent, Rita Feliciano!
In the run up to ‘International Women in Engineering Day’, we’re taking the opportunity to get to know some of our incredible ‘AmcoGiffen Women’ – beginning with Senior Site Agent, Rita Feliciano!
Arriving at our Wigan office with a bright smile, positive attitude and a determination to excel, it’s no surprise that Portuguese born Rita is one of the engineering industry’s finest assets – and we’re so excited to welcome her back to the team!
Graduating in 2002 with a degree in Civil Engineering from ‘Universidade Nova de Lisboa - Faculdade de Ciencias Technologia’, Rita began her career working in commercial quality management for a large construction firm in Portugal. Moving on to become a site engineer in both the mainland and the Azores, she explained that “in Portugal, the site engineers are also the managers. They are responsible for the delivery of the contract within programme and budget, and they generally run the projects.”
She was in her element.
Embracing the accountability, Rita worked across highways, airports, infrastructure, and ports, managing quarries, concrete production plants and bituminous mixtures plants. Delivering exceptional results, her passion, resolve and expertise made her an excellent engineer.
But the future held an unexpected obstacle that was about to change her life forever…
Finding a New Path
Following months of financial instability, 2015 brought with it a national economic crisis, which left hundreds of engineers and construction specialists out of work. Without investment and new contracts, the industry in Portugal hit a debilitating slump.
Aiming to aid struggling engineers and bridge the UK’s existing skills gap, AmcoGiffen’s executive directors were actively searching for talent in Portugal. Joining a number of other candidates – including Hugo and Luis Sousa – Rita took the exciting opportunity to bring her skillset to England… and she hasn’t looked back!
“Moving to the UK wasn’t a difficult choice”, she told me honestly, “facing a daunting recession in my home country meant that this was the best opportunity I had to continue working, so I seized it with both hands!”
Originally moving to Barnsley in Summer 2015 for training - following an application and interview process held in Portugal – Rita was then transferred to our Irlam office as a site agent for the asset management division. Having never worked in the rail industry before, she undertook a number of training courses, including her Personal Track Safety (PTS) Control of Site Safety (COSS), Safe Work Leader (SWL) and Site Management and Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS).
Spending the next couple of years in our London North West region, Rita then moved on to Carillion & Amey to further develop her career by working on the exciting NWEP project, which saw the successful electrification of the Northern Lines.
Engineering the Future
Completing her work in the NWEP project in March 2019, our newest engineer rejoined the ranks to work on AmcoGiffen’s largest project to date - the MerseyTravel contract!
Listening intently to Rita talk animatedly about her life in engineering, I had to ask her that burning question…”what’s it really like being a female engineer in such a male-dominated industry?”
She smiled, shrugged her shoulders slightly, and said “It’s just my life. Starting in the industry as a woman was unusual, and even on the biggest sites, I’m still often the only female, but I love it. Everyone knows who I am – and we look out for each other.
‘It’s challenging, but that’s the job. It’s challenging irrespective of sex. For anyone who wants variety, progression and the opportunity to make a difference, I would 100% recommend becoming an engineer.”
Acting as a link between the project manager, CEM, designers and site teams, our enthusiastic senior site agent is excited to take the next step of her career ensuring the Merseyrail network is ready for new state of the art trains.