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#TeamCrossrail Blog: Olga Konopka, Assistant Engineering Manager - Crossrail Farringdon Station

By Olga Konopka, Assistant Engineering Manager

#TeamCrossrail Blog: Olga Konopka, Assistant Engineering Manager - Crossrail Farringdon Station

Having joined Crossrail straight after completed my BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering, I’ve had quite a steep learning curve to climb. Working in such a busy and vibrant environment has really opened my eyes to the impact Crossrail is making, not just in terms of being an asset to London, but in the impact on the lives of those who are working here. There is a genuine feeling of pride and accomplishment from everyone involved, but for graduates, this once in a lifetime opportunity can be overwhelming at times.

I completed my Civil Engineering BEng (Hons) at Kingston University as a mature student, having beforehand worked in a jewellery industry (I also have a BA in Design Crafts). My decision to re-train was prompted by a realisation that I wanted utilise my mathematical skills, and for my work to make a positive, long-lasting difference to others.

My first role on Crossrail was working on the the consultation and planning approval process required to deliver the Plumstead Depot – a new maintenance and passenger train stabling facility for Crossrail.  I had the unique opportunity to be involved in bringing to completion a contract which I was there to see from start to finish. I must admit, I didn’t feel too lucky at the start, as there were lots of complex planning conditions to satisfy before even ground levelling could start. Having the chance to be involved in that process gave me a far greater appreciation for the amount of work that goes on “behind the scenes”, before any construction starts.  Once built, the Plumstead Depot will house the new Crossrail trains, so getting the consultation and planning right was extremely important and something that I am extremely proud to have been a part of.

I am currently starting the final year of my 2 year Crossrail Graduate Scheme, and have rotated from Plumstead Depot to work as the Assistant Engineering Manager at Farringdon Station. A typical work day for me involves a lot of coordination between Crossrail and various contractors and designers, and from this stems the vast majority of my work. Mornings generally consist of meetings where the most pressing planning or engineering issues on site are discussed, and the decisions taken in those meetings usually set up the rest of the day.

Some of the most enjoyable parts of my role at Crossrail have been site visits. Getting to see giant TBMs, going into tunnels, getting to see the physical scale of what is being constructed at Crossrail is genuinely amazing. Working with an experienced team of professionals has been particularly gratifying, there is always so much to learn, and everyone is eager to share this knowledge.

Starting my career in the construction industry on such a prestigious project has been, at times, a little overwhelming.  The support of the on-site team, as well as the ‘Crossrail family’ as a whole, has been essential in transitioning from a graduate to Assistant Engineering Manager.

Since most of my friends live in London they are aware of what Crossrail is and how ambitious the project is. I’m always extremely proud when showing photos from some of my site visits to those who haven’t heard of Crossrail, like my family abroad. It really helps to give them a sense of the scale of what I’m involved in on a daily basis. My dad worked as a contractor for some 20 years and it’s quite fun explaining to him some of the elements and construction techniques we employ on site and his interest in the works gives me great joy.

I have one more year left on the Crossrail Graduate Scheme and I plan to make the most of it by learning from the hugely experienced teams around me – doing everything I can to utilise the unique knowledge pool available to me through working on the biggest project in Europe.

By next September, if I don’t have a follow on role within Crossrail, I would hope to be involved in other major project, particularly the Thames Tunnel. I would also love to be part of the Crossrail 2 team… particularly at my local station in Kingston!

Find out more about the Crossrail Graduate Programme and how to apply here: