Interview with DSSR Regional Director, Lindsay Wood

Lindsay Wood, a Regional Director with DSSR, was recently interviewed by Rachel Byrne of LAPORTRA

Date

Posted 2 months ago

Category:

News

Q. What is your profession? What do you do at DSSR?

My professional background is in mechanical engineering, specialising in Building Services. For the past 25 years, I have worked within the engineering consultancy company, DSSR; I started in 1996 when I graduated from university with an Honours degree in Building Design Engineering, and I’ve been here ever since.

Now a Regional Director, I lead a multi-disciplinary engineering team and act as the Lead Mechanical Engineer and Project Co-ordinator for DSSR projects across the UK, though typically my focus is within Scotland.

Sustainability is an important topic to me. At DSSR, we prioritise sustainability, designing energy-efficient buildings using passive solutions, low-carbon & renewable technologies, design low-energy buildings.

The built environment accounts for almost 40% of global emissions, however, my work with DSSR is focused on sustainable building design which can significantly reduce the impact that buildings and cities have on the environment by minimising energy use and making zero-carbon targets achievable.

 

Q. 25 years is an impressive milestone; what do you like so much about DSSR to have stayed this long?

Everybody has a genuine respect for each other. My mum always put it best – she thinks it’s a bit like a family. When I come home and speak about work—for better or worse—that’s what she always picks up. I suppose, in many respects, it is like a family; everyone genuinely likes each other and gets on really well. When it comes to it, that kind of relationship goes a long way, because you’re spending most of your waking day with these guys. That kind of bond translates to a good variety of interactions across the different projects we work on.

 

In many respects, [DSSR] is like a family; everyone genuinely likes each other and gets on really well.

When it comes to it, that kind of relationship goes a long way, because you’re spending most of your waking day with these guys.

 

Q. What do you do within DSSR? What does your job entail?

Generally speaking, I lead a team of ten, made up of 6 Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and 4 Building Performance Modelling Engineers. On a day-to-day basis, I manage everyone’s workload—what they are doing in terms of their output and the projects they’re assigned to—but beyond that, I am still an Engineer myself.

In terms of what I do in an Engineering capacity, I design heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and various other mechanical services associated with how buildings operate.

I am also responsible for training within the company—bringing the next generation through and developing them into better Engineers—and monitoring the quality of the output that is going through the office as well.

 

Q. What is your biggest challenge within these roles?

There are various challenges. As any manager worth their salt will tell you, communication is key. This is particularly true within Engineering, where there is a great deal of technical information being shared across design teams.

As you progress through your career, gaining more responsibilities, communication becomes more and more important. I consider communication key to what I do. For example, our clients often need to make informed decisions, based on the information we provide, but they often have no professional or specialised knowledge in engineering. So there is a communication challenge in how to communicate complex engineering plans, in a clear and succinct way, to engineering laypeople.

On a technical basis, another key challenge is in the management of workload and achieving a consistency in approach, ensuring you’re proud of what you’re putting out the door.

Every colleague represents the company; everything we put out there represents how the company operates; so ultimately we all have to approach our work with the same level of diligence so we can take pride in what we are putting out the door. Consistency of approach and consistency of output: I think these are key challenges any manager faces.

 

Speaking more specifically as a woman in a male-dominated industry, I think there is a tendency to think that you’re not good enough, or to think that you need to be at the top of your game—and then some—to compare to male peers within the wider industry.

 

Q. Engineering, traditionally speaking, hasn’t been known for employing women. What do you think women add to this role?

Generally speaking, I think that men and women tend to come at problems differently, addressing challenges in a different way, with each approach having its own positives and negatives. In my experience, I find men generally tend to be more focused and singular in their approach, whereas women tend to look at things more holistically, taking time to consider the wider impact and consequences of their decisions.

 

Q. If you could pass on any business or life advice, what would it be?

To everyone, I would say ‘never doubt that you can do it’, whatever that may be to you.

Speaking more specifically as a woman in a male-dominated industry, I think there is a tendency to think that you’re not good enough or to think that you need to be at the top of your game—and then some—to compare to male peers within the wider industry.

It is important to see your own strengths and capabilities, realise that you are as good as your peers—and in some respects perhaps better than them.

There are benefits to this mindset, in that you tend to push that wee bit harder, however it also makes you more cautious of going for something until you are one hundred percent sure that you can do it.

So again, my advice is don’t doubt yourself – have faith in your abilities and believe that you can do it.