Paula McMahon

Regional Supporting Officer, Stockton on Tees

Sector: Engineering

After entering the world of engineering, Paula McMahon encountered a few people who didn’t take to welcoming a “boss lady” – but today she is in a role she loves, working for Sir Robert McAlpine and having been lead engineer on several major local and national projects. 

Where do you call home? 

I truly believe home is where the heart is. For me that is close to my friends and family in Stockton-on-Tees.  

Tell us about your role?

I am lucky to work for Sir Robert McAlpine doing all the things I love. As regional supporting officer, I help staff progress to get professional qualifications. I look after the social value for the A19, which allows me to inspire others into engineering and construction.  

How did you get to where you are today? 

I was fortunate to get an apprenticeship at my local council straight from school. This allowed me to get my ONC and degree in civil engineering, while also gaining experience. After Cleveland County Council disbanded, I entered the world of consultancy and have been lucky enough to be the lead engineer on such projects as SNF at Billingham and Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset. Along the way, I have gained chartered fellowship with the institution of civil engineers and chartered management institute.  

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

To be honest, not everyone has welcomed a “boss lady”. However, I always earned my position and was always more than qualified, so why should that stop me? 

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

When I was around 40 years old, there was a need for me to spend more time with my family. Stopping working seven days a week and travelling a lot was a lightbulb moment. We all need a good work-life balance in order to truly achieve.  

Do you have any advice to aspiring young females? 

Don’t let anyone stomp out your sparkle. Be brave, be you, be bold. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Stop to enjoy the journey from time to time. 

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

Always be kind. 

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