A coffee with… Lisa Cookson for Women in Construction Week

Article posted on: 10th March 2021

We continue Women in Construction Week with a glimpse into our GeoEnvironmental department.

The GeoEnvironmental team provides a one-stop service to deliver foundation design solutions and assist with the undertaking of environmental studies and investigations.

A key member of the team is Lisa Cookson, Senior GeoEnvironmental Engineer. When we caught up with Lisa, she opened up about about the virtually impossible task of finding a good selection of PPE  for women, where she finds inspiration, her favourite Clancy projects and more!

Take it away Lisa…

Tell us briefly about your role at Clancy
I’m a Senior GeoEnvironmental Engineer which means that I spend my days writing fee proposals, producing Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports, managing intrusive investigations, producing remediation strategies and generally getting stuck into project management and all that it entails.

My role is about 90% desk based so I am also available for mentoring junior engineers and helping out with other projects where people need assistance, but I do dust off my boots and hard hat every once in a while, usually when we are very busy or someone is off work and we need cover on a site.  


Finish this sentence ‘The most satisfying part of my job is…’
Seeing projects through from start to finish and knowing that I’ve helped a client to understand what’s going on with their site and / or coming up with solutions which will safeguard future site users and environmental receptors when the site is developed.

I also take great satisfaction from helping engineers who are newer to the industry to understand the importance of the work that we do and to see them progress in their careers.


Favourite project you’ve worked on at Clancy
I’ve been with Clancy for just over three years now and I’m involved with a wide variety of projects, but I do particularly enjoy coal mining risk assessments and ground gas risk assessment work, especially on more complex sites. Living in the northwest means that there’s a lot of coal mining legacy and I find the historic maps and mining records really interesting.

I also find that projects that are close to home or in locations which I already know well become favourites as there is a personal interest in the area.


Is there anyone who inspires you?
There are lots of people who inspire me both in my personal and professional life. I’m really grateful to have worked with some incredibly knowledgeable and welcoming women in my career who taught me a lot, many of whom have gone on to become friends as well. Working with such inspiring women has really spurned me to do be the best engineer that I can be. 

I’m also ready proud to be surrounded by family and friends who, to me, are just the best people out there. They inspire me every day to be more adventurous, to be confident and to keep working hard even when things get tough.


What’s the most helpful advice you have been given
I’m not sure about ‘advice’ but years ago I went on a youth retreat and the camp moto was ‘Whether you believe you can or you believe you cannot, you’re absolutely right!’. I’ve always quite liked it to remind me that having confidence and giving things a go puts you a lot closer to your goal to begin with!


Future trends – what changes do you see/would you like to see in the industry over the next 10 years
Finding a good selection of PPE to choose from for women is still virtually impossible – if I need a new pair of work trousers or boots I can’t just walk into a PPE shop and try things on unless I’m happy to buy something Unisex (ie. Badly fitting for me) which is frustrating. Whilst some manufacturers have taken strides to address this, I’d like to see more done over the coming years.

I think that with Covid-19 the working world has the potential to change, with more home working and a better home life balance in the mix going forward. Until I had a child I didn’t realise how hard it can be to be a working mother, and I’m so fortunate that Clancy, and especially the geoscience team, have always been flexible and accommodating. I hope that Covid-19 has taught other employers who have traditionally been less flexible with both male and female parents that it doesn’t have to be one or the other and that finishing early sometimes to do a school pick up or starting a bit later because of a nursery drop off doesn’t mean that you’re not committed to your job as well. 


Lastly, any hidden talents you want to share?
In a past life I was qualified as an instructor in archery, rock climbing, watersports (predominantly kayaking but I do dabble in open boating when being bribed with cake!) and I have also done my mountain leader (summer) training.

When I’m not at home wrangling two dogs, two guinea pigs, five chickens, a toddler and a husband, I can usually be found either behind a sewing machine making children’s clothes, outside swimming in remote locations or hiding down caves.

Two years ago I also won the Clancy Consulting Bake Off Competition with my amazing cheesecake brownies and I’m looking forward to flexing my talents and fighting to retain my title when the competition returns later this year!

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