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Digital infrastructure

Harriet Wheeldon

A programme and project management professional, Harriet thrives building inclusive teams which are focused on transforming the performance of transportation infrastructure. Harriet recognises the important role of these projects within our society and their potential to create social, economic and environmental benefit. She is committed to adopting innovative approaches which help to accelerate the transition to net zero.

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Asset Renewals Partner, Heathrow

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Programme management

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Problem solving, programme management

About Harriet

Harriet’s experience spans aviation, rail and IT. She works collaboratively with customers and partners to achieve project success and overcome challenges. Problem-solving is in her DNA and Harriet enjoys the challenge of meeting the needs of the end user and key stakeholders, while navigating the complexities of the project/programme lifecycle.

Harriet on her role

I have been at Costain for just a year. In that time, I have successfully mobilised and managed a key project within our Transport for London portfolio, designing critical upgrades to the signalling infrastructure on the Piccadilly line to improve passenger journeys across the capital. I am now responsible for mobilising the Asset Renewal Programme in our role as delivery partner to Heathrow Airport on their H7 framework. There is a hugely exciting opportunity to take lessons I have learnt from my career in rail and shipping into a new environment.


What led Harriet to her career

I am a project manager by trade and have spent the last 12 years working on infrastructure projects in the rail and IT sectors. Before this, I worked in other industries in both project and operations management. Naturally outgoing and sociable, I really enjoy the challenge of bringing people together to achieve a common goal and the journey that entails.


What's the most common misunderstanding of Harriet's role?

There’s a common misconception that project managers are obsessed with getting the job done. Rather, it’s about managing complex, interconnected and dynamic requirements to ensure the project is delivered to a high standard and meets the needs of our customers. Building strong multi-organisational teams who share a vision for what we are trying to achieve, based on core values and behaviours, is critical.


Harriet on how her role contributes to improving people's lives

When I was 18, I wouldn’t have imagined for one second that I would be working on infrastructure projects which bring the life-changing benefits of connectivity to communities and passengers. Public transport is key to social mobility and economic growth. This is one of the many reasons I have stayed in the sector. I’m also passionate about sustainability and the role that project management can play in accelerating the transition to net zero – the introduction of new technology is often at the heart of this. We’re committed to being a net zero business by 2035 at the latest and a big part of this is helping our customers to decarbonise their operations.


Harriet's typical day at work

No one day is the same, so it’s never boring! At the moment, I am mobilising a large transformation project working across a complex ecosystem of client representatives, their customers, partners and suppliers. This is a critical stage in the project lifecycle as we set up the project for success. As things progress, we will be setting the scene with these groups working collaboratively towards the same goal.


Harriet's biggest professional achievement and why?

I am proud of everything I have achieved; I have had a really varied career from cleaner to bar manager, and travel agent to Super Yacht refit manager. In not following the conventional career path, I have gained a diverse amount of experience which makes me the project leader I am today


What Harriet wants to professionally achieve in the next five years

In the past five years I have had the privilege of having children, so the pressure is on to keep the balance between my roles. I am a firm believer that your home environment impacts your professional environment and vice versa, and that balance requires nurturing but when it works the rest takes care of itself. So, for me it’s about keep the show on the road on both fronts, with some fun along the way and hopefully supporting others on a similar journey.


Harriet on what she believes is the biggest challenge programme management professionals

Challenges are all part and parcel of the job and there’s nothing project managers enjoy more than finding the best way to resolve them! 


How these challenges can be overcome

Understanding all the parties involved, from their biggest fear to what good looks like, is key to triaging a problem. This is best achieved through collaborative working - working together early on and building those relationships smooths the way when it comes to affecting change.


Three things people won’t know about Harriet


  1. I have sailed on a lot of seas and oceans and dived beneath them – I am probably more at home on water than I am on land!
  2. I spent some time post university working on Superyachts, and at the time, was one of a handful of female First Mates in the industry (at the time I never met any!)
  3. I grew up on a farm and have an unnerving amount of insight into the world of agriculture. I currently keep some chickens but am hoping to add bees to our growing menagerie.

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