International Women’s Day: Julie Sharman

To celebrate International Women’s day we’ve been speaking to some of the women around the Trust who play a huge part in making our canals and rivers the special places that we know and love. Julie Sharman is our head of asset management and performance and here she tells us about what that involves.

Julie Sharman

I began my career in construction with Taylor Woodrow, working on the Channel Tunnel. The team I worked with helped to reclaim a large area of land from the sea with the muck from the Tunnels. I also worked with the miners to set the line of cross-passages between service tunnel and main tunnels. I was there from the early days of the project but left before the two sides met in the middle.

I then worked in London on the Jubilee Line extension constructing Southwark station working with the French-Japanese consortium Aoki-Soletanche before joining British Waterways in 1996.

I have a very varied and enjoyable job, from meeting Ministers to problem solving. My main role is to lead the asset management and performance team, there are 200 of us altogether covering water management, heritage, the environment, engineering health & safety, asset strategy M&E and SCADA/ICA.

Our job is to understand how the waterway network works, review the risks and then prioritise repairs and restoration work. We look after everything from reservoir dams to dredging and inspecting all of our structures to check their condition to deciding where to invest our hard earned income. As a team we also support the rest of the Trust with technical advice. We can help people with advice about when to carry out projects to make sure we don’t disturb the environment, how much water is available in certain areas, whether we need to get listed building consent before work goes ahead and much more.

The most rewarding parts of my role are seeing the improvements that we make, working with our excellent team and influencing opportunities for the Trust externally. I am always looking out for opportunities for our funding team to help support our work on the network and make sure we get the best deal when there’s any new legislation that might affect us.

I get to wear a hard hat and get out on site at least once a month. As my first job was in construction I feel very at home in a hard hat, and it keeps your head warm and dry!

At the moment we’re still dealing with the aftermath of the Boxing Day floods. We’re working to repair Elland Bridge and Knostrop Weir in Yorkshire. I’ve been talking with local authorities and government to try and secure funding for the works.

The great thing with engineering is delivering something physical at the end, not all jobs can offer that level of satisfaction.

If you’re thinking of getting into engineering why not give it a go? It’s interesting, rewarding and will give you the chance of a great career.


Last date edited: 24 February 2017