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IWD 2021: Anisa Koci
Anisa Koci – senior project manager
Anisa Koci is the senior project manager at Portsmouth International Port, and is currently representing the engineering team in implementing the ports new masterplan. Her role involves the overseeing of multimillion pound investments, the management of all major port capital infrastructure schemes, and supporting the growth and regeneration of Portsmouth International Port and the surrounding local area.
How has the pandemic affected your job role?
When the pandemic hit, we were in the middle of the construction of the new cruise berth. Covid19 was a hurdle that nobody could have predicted, and it hit the project before the virus had even reached the UK, as one of the critical elements of the scheme, the fenders, were being manufactured in Malaysia. This had a significant impact on the programme of works as it affected the whole construction supply chain.
We also had to make the decision on whether to pause works or progress with the construction. As it was deemed essential, work continued, but I had to issue letters for all of the keyworkers on site and everyone had to adapt to new social distancing regulations.
It has also affected the budget for all future port infrastructures, and we have had to find ways to cope with a lack of funding whilst meeting the demands of Brexit. This has meant cancelling whole projects and putting builds on hold to save money, which has been disappointing.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced during the pandemic and how have you overcome it?
I was so busy during the first few months of lockdown, that I didn’t really have a chance to think about all of the impacts the pandemic was having. I am the type of person who likes to engage face to face with my teams, and I have missed the social interaction with my colleagues. However we have moved a lot of communication online, and all port staff have received good support from senior management. I have also had to work around my life at home, and adapting to remote working whilst balancing family life has been challenging.
I miss events the most, this time of year I would usually be at roadshows (e.g. 1851 Trust Maritime Roadshow for girls – Anisa sits on the panel of inspirational women), so this period feels a lot quieter. There have been some online events but it’s not the same as interacting in a big room of people who all share the same interests and passions.
Who is your main inspiration?
Engineering runs in my family, and I have always known that I wanted to work in the industry. My aunt was an engineer who used to travel the world working on contracts with different consultancies, and that is definitely where my inspiration comes from. I have always wanted to do something different.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you, and why do you think it’s important?
Since starting my studies and career, I have always been amongst very few women. I was one of only a few girls in my classes at university, and this still applies to my job role today.
I am really passionate about introducing young people to the opportunities that STEM subjects can provide. I want to be a positive role model to anyone starting out in engineering or maritime, and encourage more girls to get in to these industries and careers. When speaking at roadshows and events, I always try to get across just how much the job varies, and emphasise that there’s more to it than being outside in the rain in a high vis!
On top of her demanding day job, Anisa sits on the ICE South Graduate, Student and Apprentice Committee and is an employment mentor at the University of Portsmouth, representing her MSc degree in engineering as an alumni of the city’s university.
Engineering and construction is typically a very male dominated industry which can bring some challenges, as I sometimes feel like I have to prove myself and act more ‘robust’ when I first walk in to manage a room full of male workers. However perceptions are changing.
The industry still needs educating to become more accepting of diversity. My aim is to not have to change myself, but to change the environment I work in to accept strong female leads.