Ilke Sahin is one of our dedicated delay analysts with over 16 years of experience as a contractor and a consultant on a wide range of civil engineering and construction projects. She has been appointed as the named delay expert and worked on a series of international projects including rail, power stations, airports, residential and commercial developments. From a Grade 1 museum building in London to a multi-billion-dollar 600km motorway in Turkey, Ilke’s projects’ atlas spans across three continents – from Middle East and Africa to Asia and Europe.  Ahead of International Women’s Day, we talk to her about the challenges of working as a young expat woman in a male-dominated industry.

What are you most proud of doing? 

I am not just proud of one single achievement, I am proud of the entire path I have taken in my professional life since, as a young girl growing up in Turkey, I found my true passion for civil engineering. I started as a young female engineer on a project site at the Oman – Yemen border and have been challenging myself (and all stereotypes) ever since. I found my niche in construction dispute resolution and have loved excelling as a delay expert, especially since I joined Blackrock Expert Services Group almost a decade ago.   

Which influential woman do you admire the most/who is your female role model and why? 

Many women have imparted their positive influence on my life. My first female role model was my primary school teacher, who pursued her teaching education at a young age despite the opposition of her family.  

What would you say to any young woman who is thinking about a career in construction or a male dominated industry? 

Construction is considered a tough environment for women but there are many skills and qualities that we can bring to the table. Instead of focusing on the physical disadvantages (if any), we should be confident and emphasise our unique attributes. Many women might think about “fitting” in the male dominated construction industry by softening their skills. My advice would be to own and celebrate those differences as they set us apart. Otherwise, we would be playing someone else’s game. More importantly, changing our approach would be at the expense of who we really are.

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about a career in dispute resolution? 

If you are joining dispute resolution from a slightly different field, I would advise considering some additional training on dispute resolution or law. Networking is also very important. Keeping all connections from your former life would be just as beneficial as making new contacts in the dispute resolution world.  

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you? 

Many of the workplace challenges women face today stem from the lack of proper procedures in place to address gender inequalities. It is important that women support each other through such challenges. By sharing and trusting each other, we would feel empoweredbe more confident, overcome our anxieties and get a fresh perspective.  

How important do you think diversity and inclusion is to the success of Blackrock Expert Services Group? 

Diversity and inclusion bring countless attributes that set a company apart. They have been instrumental to the growth of Blackrock Expert Services Group and, undoubtedly, the founding blocks of its resounding success. Working in a diverse environment does not alienate people. On the contrary, it brings a sense of friendship and solidarity.