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Yewande Akinola

Inspiring the next generation on the road to CEng

Yewande Akinola works as a Principal Engineer for Laing O’Rourke specialising in engineering innovation and sustainable development. It is a varied role that needs to fit in around a hectic schedule for somebody in as much demand as Yewande.

“There’s no typical working day for me, they are normally a mix of different activities that include design consulting work as well as external engagement.”

Alongside her day job Yewande, sits on the Board of Trustee’s of the IET as well as other academic institutions and embarks on various initiatives to inspire the next generation of engineers and supporting their progression.

Originally starting as a graduate engineer for Arup, Yewande spent the first two years as an environmental services engineer, working across some incredible projects across the UK including schools, commercial buildings, airports and stadiums all helping to embed the fundamentals of engineering.

“I spent a lot of time learning how to become a creative engineer and an engineer with a really strong focus on sustainability. I then moved to Shanghai when I spent three years working on some amazing super high-rise buildings including one that was 100 storey’s.”

Now working within the construction sector and putting her vast experience to good use, Yewande has had a chance to reflect on her journey through her CEng application.

Choosing a professional home

Yewande had the goal of becoming a Chartered Engineer from early on in her career and from the start she made a habit of keeping an account of projects on which she had worked on and was involved with. However, choosing the correct professional body for Yewande was an important decision as she looked at which institution could best assist her career development.

“I chose to become Chartered with the IET because I really like the fact that it was so broad in terms of its appreciation of the engineering industry. We live in a time where technology and engineering really work hand in hand and the IET understands that.”

Looking back on her choice of institution, Yewande realised she had made the right decision for her and her career path as she began to diversify and take on new and exciting projects that would all help her with becoming CEng.

“It actually was probably one of the better decisions that I made in those early days because my career is evolving and I'm working on a whole range of different engineering solutions in different forms and formats.” 

Validation and recognition

Yewande’s goal of becoming Chartered and establishing herself as a viable and competent engineer was one that she took seriously and using her previous records of projects and experience she was able to put pen to paper on an application.

“Keeping an account of work, I have done was extremely helpful because when it came to applying for Chartership, I could refer back to those specific activities, what I'd learned and what my contributions were as well.”

For Yewande being a member of the IET allowed her to access the support and guidance on offer from dedicated Membership and Professional Registration teams from across the globe.

“I got a lot of help from the IET and the Membership team as well. I was based in Shanghai when I applied so I was really trying to work on it from 1000’s of miles away. It was really handy to have the Professional Registration team responding to my emails, helping with any queries that I had, helping to schedule interviews when I was going to be in the UK, which was really helpful.”

Looking back and moving forward

Now Professionally Registered and balancing a successful engineering career with a blossoming career in television and media, Yewande realises that CEng did help her feel established in engineering.

“It was pretty much confirming that I was qualified, and it was a single way of confirming to anybody that I was a qualified engineer. That's what chartership does it helps you bring all of the experience that you have gained over the years and get credit for it.”

Yewande was inspired to become an engineer when she was younger and spent a lot of time building models and showing an interest in buildings and how they were made. Now at the top of the engineering profession, she was able to think about not only how Professional Registration will benefit her moving forward but also how it can benefit others.

“I would really recommend it. It's that thing that is the accreditation, confirmation, and the proof that you've spent the time learning and working on projects and the projects that you've worked on are still standing and it's also an opportunity for you to get better visibility in industry and they respect you for it.

So I would say to anybody who is thinking about it, go for it as it's a great way to get better visibility and open up even more interesting projects for you to work on and more opportunities for you to bring tangible impact to our world.”