Maria Dube is a Senior GIS Specialist at Severn Trent Services.
She’s also a Gold Star Award winner in Innovation, a MSc Engineer in Geodesy and Cartography, a mum to three children, and originally from Poland.
We talk to Maria for International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED23) about her role, how she supports engineers, and her views on women in the workplace.
From providing technical advice to building digital twins
Maria’s been in the water industry since she moved to the UK from Poland in 2006 – beginning her career at Thames Water before moving to Severn Trent Services.
One of Maria’s biggest achievements has been working with her Severn Trent Services colleagues to create a one-stop digital shop of information about their customer’s water and wastewater assets using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping software.
She said: “GIS mapping software creates a digital twin of our customer’s sites, which allows our operational colleagues to work more efficiently, effectively, and safely.”
Maria’s role can be quite varied. She explained: “One day, I could be providing technical advice and creating a 3D image for an engineer who needs to understand the terrain of a customer site before they install an overground supply pipe.
“Another day, I might be analysing a private network to figure out why a customer suffers repeat blockages, only to discover the pipe layout has been designed so poorly it’s restricted its flow.”
Avoiding becoming a maths teacher!
Maria chose her study and work path to avoid becoming a maths teacher!
She said: “I love maths. But I knew that if I studied pure maths at university, I’d become a maths teacher, and that wouldn’t be right for me. I’d be no good at that.
“I specialised in space-related information systems during my degree and loved it, which resulted in me becoming a land surveyor.
“I was drawn to the idea of going on-site, assessing the terrain, and returning to an office to process the information and produce maps and 3D drawings.
“Coming to England has broadened my experience. I’ve worked on the Thames Tideway Tunnel as a land surveyor. And when I first started at Severn Trent Services, I was a technical surveyor, driving around the UK and visiting our customer’s sites to survey their water and wastewater assets.
“My current role is closer to the cartography element of my degree. Having children better suits a desk-based role. But most of all, the revolution in GIS mapping software is awesome, and I’m exactly where I want to be.”
Helping to protect peers
#MakeSafetySeen is a theme of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day, celebrating women protecting their colleagues, peers, and wider society.
Maria and the team’s GIS mapping software work is helping to identify safety hazards for engineers in the field.
She said: “An example of this is our efforts to pinpoint all our customer’s fire hydrants and map their details onto a central platform. This allows our field colleagues to find the fire hydrant’s location more easily and know whether they’ve been boosted. This is important because boosted fire hydrants have higher water pressure and can be dangerous.”
Like what you do and do it well
Maria doesn’t feel disadvantaged in a male-dominated industry.
She said, “I’ve carried heavy surveying instruments around sites like my male counterparts have. There’s no allowance for being a woman, and I don’t expect there to be. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s about choosing a job you enjoy, which means you’re more likely do it well.”
Maria recently won an award at the Severn Trent Services Star Awards for her innovative work.
Her colleague said: “After meeting Maria, our customers are left feeling secure that Severn Trent Services is a reliable company that will deliver a first-class service with real expertise.”