Marian Ferguson is the Founding Director of Energylab Consulting, a building services consultancy with offices in London and Manchester. Marian took some time out to talk to us about the difficulties she faced as a young engineer in Scotland, and how she keeps up to speed with what's happening in her industry.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I am a Chartered Building Services Engineer and have my own design practice. I am sitting in our Manchester office while I write this, but I started the business in London, where we are still based.
How did I get here? I wanted to make a difference, but I also needed a paying job. Someone suggested engineering; "The world needs engineers but women don't normally do engineering".
No brainer then.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The ability to make a difference. As building services engineers, we design the mechanical and electrical elements of buildings and so have a huge impact on the environment around us.
We have input during every step of the construction process, from inception, through design, procurement, build, handover, and beyond. The decisions we make in the early stages of a building's development will be far-reaching during its entire lifespan.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Follow your own path and live to your own principles, then whatever decisions you make will be the right decisions for you. No-one 'gave' me this. I worked it out for myself eventually.
What, or who inspires you?
I relate to Virginia Woolf. She questioned the perception of women at that time. She was also completely misunderstood.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
I talk to people! Yes, you can read up on what is going on, but there is nothing like good industry gossip to keep one truly informed.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
There have been so many - the construction industry can be one big challenge.
However, some of the biggest challenges have been early on in my career. I was a young female engineer trying to carve a career in the Scottish construction industry in the 80s. It was not easy - but I kept going as this is what I wanted to do. My mother taught me resilience, and I definitely needed it!
If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?
I love to learn so, in another life, I would be a full-time student learning all sorts of stuff - French, English Literature, Music, Art History. But I am in this life so I'd be doing whatever it takes to keep a roof over my head and food on the table, while still trying to make a difference to the world around me, however small that might be.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Probably be a full time student!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I love what I do, and I don't necessarily delineate between work and non-work time. However, I love being outdoors and, whether I am walking, running or cycling, I get so into my surroundings that I definitely don't think about work!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That everyone would treat each other with respect. We all don't need to 'like' each other, but we should all respect each other. The world, not just the construction industry, would be a better place for this.
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marian-ferguson-99b82429/ or our company website http://www.energy-lab.co.uk/contact-us/.