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AECOM Associate Director Azaria Bleakley works with wastewater

AECOM Associate Director Azaria Bleakley works with wastewater

 March 05, 2024

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AECOM's People Spotlight series provides an inside look at the company's technical experts around the world.

Meet Associate Director Azaria Bleakley from AECOM's Water business in Northern Ireland. With over 14 years’ experience in wastewater infrastructure, Azaria has made it her mission to inspire young professionals to join the Water sector.

Learn more about Azaria's inspirations and role with AECOM.

AECOM Associate Director career

Working on a new approach to wastewater infrastructure

Azaria is a chartered civil engineer and project and program manager with over 14 years’ experience on a wide range of projects, including wastewater infrastructure and non-infrastructure, civil engineering, building and refurbishment projects. She has worked in contracting as well as client and consulting sectors.

Azaria is the Program Manager for Northern Ireland Water’s Living with Water Program, which is a new and integrated approach to drainage and wastewater infrastructure in Belfast.

Learning the importance of engineering to society

From an early age, Azaria was passionate about problem-solving and design. An excellent teacher who provided salient career advice inspired Azaria to pursue engineering.

"I studied a sandwich degree course in Civil Engineering which enabled me to work for an engineering consultancy during a placement year. During this time, I worked on a variety of interesting projects that showed me how important engineering is to society, and I was sure I wanted to be a part of that," says Azaria.

"To this day, I aim to inspire the next generation of engineers to join the industry through my work as an advocate for careers in STEM and with the Institution of Civil Engineers."

AECOM engineering career

Key projects supporting economic development

Azaria explains that her favourite AECOM project that she has worked on is the Placencia Peninsula project in Belize.

"My team and I designed the peninsula’s first sewerage network and treatment system to support economic development, improve the quality of life of the residents and protect sensitive environmental receptors, including the Placencia Lagoon. There were many exciting technical challenges to the project, including high ground water, sandy soil and topographical restrictions which made the project interesting," explains Azaria.

"Using population information which we gathered as part of the project, we produced the design for the sewerage collection network which proved challenging due to the nature of the site including; extremely flat topography, high groundwater table and surge tide, sandy ground conditions and dense housing areas. These conditions limited the depth of excavation which resulted in a significant amount of pumping stations. We provided alternative solutions including trenchless technologies for pipe installation and vacuum pumping systems. All solutions, together with costs and benefits, were presented to the client for decision making."

"The project was my favourite as it was interesting and challenging working in a location with different conditions that I had been used to. I also got to collaborate with several experts from whom I was able to learn quite early on in my career," adds Azaria.

Community outcomes as a driver for success

Azaria's role with AECOM has seen her work on many projects where community outcomes were the driver for their success and were at the forefront of the design. Through stakeholder engagement, Azaria and her team can make sure community members, including local community representatives and councilors, are actively involved throughout the design process.

"On the Hillsborough Forest Project, we engaged with local schools in Down, Northern Ireland and tailored solutions to meet the needs of local school children who now use the space for forest school activities. The overarching goal for the project was to provide a world-class year-round visitor attraction which is visually and ecologically appealing, tying into the local council’s tourism strategy and ongoing community plans. I was the project manager both on the AECOM side acting as the council’s project manager representative and later as a council project manager," shares Azaria.

"Through community engagement, we addressed several community needs including a more accessible park with parking and equipment for visitors with disabilities, toilet facilities to allow people to enjoy the forest longer, and educational materials throughout the forest."

Azaria's impactful career advice

AECOM Azaria Bleakley career

Azaria shares that her piece of career advice would be in relation to the importance of being open to new and exciting challenges, either from oneself or from colleagues, as there may be opportunities to discover a new untapped skill or make new connections.

"I also believe it is important to have a genuine interest and passion for the industry," says Azaria.

"At AECOM, we are working on such wide-ranging exciting projects that have tangible positive impacts in the community, so it is important that we have people who feel as passionate about the projects as we do," concludes Azaria.

AECOM community projects

Inspired by Azaria's successful AECOM career in the Water sector?

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