Najwa Jawahar: Embracing Growth and Transformation
Najwa Jawahar
Najwa Jawahar

The realm of engineering and design management bridges the gap between creative vision and technical execution. Managers in this field oversee teams of engineers and designers, ensuring projects meet both functional requirements and aesthetic goals. They juggle tasks like budget control, resource allocation and fostering collaboration between disciplines to bring innovative ideas to life.

Najwa Jawahar stands out as a groundbreaker in this field, embodying a journey defined by perseverance and dedication. After earning first-class honours in Civil and Structural Engineering from the University of Leeds in 2011, Najwa made a courageous move to London, igniting her career trajectory. Joining WSP as a graduate engineer in 2012, she swiftly cultivated a global network of 300+ peers within two years, showcasing proactive leadership.

Recognized as one of the top 50 rising stars in Science and Engineering, Najwa spearheaded pivotal business initiatives as part of WSP’s Taskforce Team in 2014. Her commitment to excellence earned her the prestigious Best Young Woman Engineer award at the European Women in Construction and Engineering 2017. With 12 years of design experience, Najwa embraced a Design Management role leading multi-disciplinary projects prioritizing client satisfaction and value delivery.

Najwa’s inspiration to pursue structural engineering stemmed from a deepseated love for mathematics, physics and collaborative projects. She found fulfilment in designing innovative and empowering buildings driven by the desire to leave a lasting legacy and positively impact lives. As an Associate Director of Design Management at WSP, Najwa continues to drive profound transformation, embodying leadership and visionary expertise in shaping the built environment.

Challenging Stereotypes

As a woman leader in the construction industry, Najwa has faced multifaceted challenges entrenched in gender biases and societal stereotypes. “Navigating through perceptions of it being a man’s job’ remains a persistent hurdle,” she shares. Preconceived notions about gender roles often lead to microaggressions and undermine her credibility. “Instances of being dismissed or belittled solely based on gender highlight the deep-rooted sexism pervasive in the industry.

Despite these obstacles, Najwa perseveres, seeking support from allies and leveraging her expertise to assert authority. The lack of representation and positive role models exacerbates these challenges, leaving women to navigate uncharted territories alone. “I remain steadfast in my commitment to shattering barriers,” she affirms. By confronting biases head-on and emphasizing her capabilities, Najwa aims to pave the way for future generations of women leaders in construction. She emphasizes the importance of addressing systemic sexism and believes in creating a more inclusive industry.

Embracing Resilience

Navigating the challenges of leadership in construction, Najwa emphasizes resilience and self-discovery. “Overcoming biases and stereotypes requires emotional detachment,” she shares, enabling her to focus on root issues. Developing a ‘thick skin’ helps her address challenges with clarity seeking solutions over negativity.

Najwa values a robust support network of mentors and allies for guidance and encouragement. Open conversations with this network provide insights and strategies for success. Actively seeking mentorship and being a role model for others, especially from minority backgrounds, empowers Najwa to confront industry challenges head-on.

Inspiring Change and Innovation

In Najwa’s leadership journey, fostering inclusivity and accessibility is a passionate commitment. She envisions a workspace where every voice is heard and celebrated. “I create an environment where team members feel valued, empowered and free to contribute their unique perspectives,” Najwa emphasizes. She believes in cultivating a culture of respect, collaboration and mentorship to inspire the next generation to excel.

Najwa aims to be a beacon of positive change in the construction industry by continually refining her approach, seeking feedback and promoting open dialogue. Together, she emphasizes, they are building a community where diversity thrives, innovation flourishes and everyone has the opportunity to shine.

A Supportive Environment

Najwa champions building a community of trailblazers and changemakers. “I believe in the importance of support networks and mentors,” she affirms empowering women to navigate challenges like re-entering the workforce after breaks.

By openly sharing her journey, Najwa instills confidence and resilience, encouraging others to follow similar paths. She strives to foster a supportive environment where women feel empowered to thrive in construction and more.

Driving Cohesion and Performance

Najwa prioritizes open communication and respect to build and lead an effective team. “I encourage diverse perspectives, ensuring everyone feels valued and heard,” she emphasizes. By fostering a safe environment for sharing ideas, her team leverages collective strengths. Regular feedback and clear expectations maintain alignment and accountability.

Najwa promotes ownership and autonomy, empowering each team member to contribute their best. These strategies cultivate a cohesive, high-performing team in the dynamic construction industry.

Redesigning the Built Environment

As a trailblazing woman leader in engineering, I’m driven to forge a legacy of empowerment and inspiration,” says Najwa. She aims to ignite passion, purpose and steadfast confidence in future innovators by crafting visionary structures and nurturing budding talent. Together, they’ll sculpt a boundless horizon of possibilities in STEM, shaping a world where every dream knows no limits.

Najwa’s goals encompass mastering design management and spearheadingprojects that redefine the built environment. “On a personal level, I aspire to ignite a passion for STEM among women,” she shares, fostering inclusivity and envisioning a future where every individual thrives and barriers dissolve in the industry. Through her work and advocacy, Najwa aims to create opportunities and inspire women to excel in STEM fields, contributing to a more inclusive and innovative built environment.

Harnessing Your Power

To women striving to make a difference: Embrace your passions, nurture resilience and seize every chance to grow. “Forge robust support systems, harness your distinct viewpoints and never doubt your power to drive profound transformation,” advises Najwa. Stay steadfast in your vision and let your voice resound with stanch strength. By embracing these principles, women can navigate challenges, leverage their unique perspectives and contribute to impactful transformations in their fields and communities.

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