November 27, 2023 | Articles
Ruqaiya Al Wahaibi is a Project Engineer based out of Hill International’s office in Muscat, Oman. She has more than 17 years of experience supporting major airport, commercial, residential, and industrial construction projects throughout the country. Among these projects are some of Hill’s most high-profile assignments in the Middle East, including the development of Muscat International Airport and the Sharqiyah Expressway. Currently, Ruqaiya supports Phase 1 of the Omani National Leisure and Tourism Company’s A’Sharq Development in Barka. This megaproject involves the construction of a cluster of amusement parks, hotels, and shopping destinations, the first of its kind in the country. Phase 1 includes the construction of a water park. Ruqaiya handles soil improvement and earthworks for the water park as project manager and engineer.
In her nearly two-decade career, Ruqaiya has learned a great deal. For International Women in Engineering Day, she shared some of that expertise, describing what she likes about engineering, offering advice to newcomers, and discussing her experience as a woman in engineering.
Asked what she likes about her work, Ruqaiya describes the satisfaction she gets working on projects and making a difference in her community. For example, infrastructure projects like the Muscat International Airport and the Sharqiyah Expressway have transformed Oman. Likewise, the A’Sharq Development promises to bolster Oman’s tourism infrastructure, creating a must-see destination for residents and visitors alike. “Such major projects also challenge me and give me the opportunity to excel and grow,” she adds.
As a project engineer, Ruqaiya holds many responsibilities. She provides project coordination and management, site inspection and construction supervision, and quality control support. She often manages technical teams, reviews drawings, develops and maintains project information management systems (PMIS), coordinates with other project stakeholders, and helps implement health, safety, and environment (HSE) policies to create safe and healthy environments on her sites. Ruqaiya loves the diversity of her work, as well as the creative problem solving, communication skills, and teamwork she makes use of every day.
Ruqaiya also recognizes that she works in an industry where women have been and continue to be underrepresented. While progress has been made, She says that more awareness campaigns are needed, along with continued efforts to increase job satisfaction for women in the AEC industry and promote equitable wages.
Advice for AEC Newcomers
For those entering the industry, especially women, Ruqaiya was unambiguous: “Find a mentor. It is very helpful to have someone with whom you can meet or speak regularly to share ideas, discuss progress at work, and establish career development goals. Your mentor doesn’t have to be someone you report to. It can be a colleague or a person from a completely different area. The right mentor will be somebody who knows how to succeed and is passionate about sharing that knowledge with others.”
In addition to finding the right mentor, Ruqaiya recommends that would-be engineers take on as many challenges as they can. Whether those are difficult technical roles, important leadership responsibilities, or positions in new, uncomfortable situations, Ruqaiya says such experiences are formative for engineers and lead to opportunities. She cites her own experience on challenging assignments with Hill, such as her work at Muscat International Airport. Her last piece of advice will ring true for professionals in any industry: “Keep your commitments—even if it means working harder than everyone else.”
Women at Hill
“Hill is a good company in regard to providing a safe environment for women in AEC,” Ruqaiya adds. “I felt very welcomed when I joined the team, and there are also many successful women in the company, which makes my colleagues and me feel as if we too can thrive in this environment.” She notes that Hill provides a space where employees have the opportunity to make mistakes surrounded by supportive employees and managers who can guide them. Ultimately, this helps Hill employees grow as professionals, improves their skills, and allows them to organically and creatively solve problems.
“Engineering can be a fulfilling career that offers countless opportunities for learning, growth, and success,” Ruqaiya concludes. “I hope, going forward, more women are able to appreciate that and enjoy such a career as I’ve had.” Thank you to Ruqaiya for being an example and a voice for other women in AEC!
Hill is proud to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, as well as our many wonderful colleagues like Ruqaiya who help clients around the world deliver the infrastructure of change. If you are a woman in engineering, we invite you to take a look at our available positions and apply today! For more information about Hill, please visit www.hillintl.com. To see our available positions, please visit www.hillintl.com/careers.
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