Passionate about the role of women in civil engineering, Timm clinches Woman in Leadership of the Year title
A dedicated structural engineer who is passionate about the role of women in civil engineering, Kim Timm (Pr. Eng.), Executive – Structures, Buildings and Places at AECOM was announced as the Woman in Leadership of the Year at The Big 5 Women in Construction Awards 2021 held in Dubai on 15 September.
“If we support and encourage each other, we can change the world,” comments Timm. Active in the industry for 18 years, she notes that when she commenced her career, there were very few women engineers. “The industry has evolved over the past 20 years, but it can still be a challenge to be taken seriously as a woman in engineering.”
The Big 5 construction trade event made its in-person return on 12 September, welcoming back the global construction industry to reconnect face-to-face for the first time in two years. It saw 50 exhibiting countries, 20 country pavilions and 1 200 confirmed exhibitors, making it one of the largest trade shows of its kind in the world.
The Women in Construction Forum & Awards align with Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5 highlights the positive socioeconomic impact of a gender-balanced workforce by showcasing the female professionals who excel in their role, and the companies with a proven track record of implementing positive change to push the industry forward in equality and representation. The awards are open to female professionals and companies who operate in the Middle East, Africa and the South Asian construction industry.
Timm has a master’s degree in Structural Engineering from the University of Stellenbosch, has won the CESA (Consulting Engineers South Africa) Mentor of the Year 2019 and was recognised by SAPSA (South African Professional Services Awards) as the Professional Woman of the Year 2019/20. She has co-authored numerous papers and articles and worked on a wide range of multi-award-winning buildings projects, from power-stations to commercial office blocks. She is currently the technical lead for AECOM Structures in the Gauteng office in South Africa. She combines her technical knowledge with empathy and understanding and is a highly-regarded mentor and leader in her field.
In 2020, Kim was nominated as a Diversity Champion for AECOM South Africa, focused on retaining youth talent. In this role, Kim investigated the motivations driving under 35s to look beyond the company for career opportunities. In her most recent project, Timm’s performance and comprehension of the requirements impressed the client to the point where they broadened the scope of the work from five people full-time for three months to 18 people full-time for 22 months. This work has been a major contributor for the division’s financial wellbeing, especially during these difficult economic times brought on by the pandemic.
Darrin Green, Managing Director of AECOM’s business in Africa, comments that she has the intellect to understand and implement complex engineering challenges. “She has earned the respect of all those with whom she has crossed paths, this in an industry that is dominated by men. She has given back to the industry by mentoring newcomers to the industry, irrespective of age, race, or gender. She has the mindfulness to practice situational leadership and adapt to the challenge at hand. She has been awarded numerous awards and clearly is an inspiration to all woman in the industry, all of this while fulfilling her other roles as a wife, mother and active member of her local community.”
“We cannot, as women, complain that the world does not provide us with opportunities on a silver platter. We cannot expect others to do the footwork and just reap the rewards. Each and every one of us must be the absolute best we can be in order to prove the naysayers wrong,” asserts Timm. “People are now used to having women in the industry, which helps. There is still bias, but every additional female in the field helps change attitudes. AECOM is excellent at making everyone feel included. There are people you can talk to no matter the problem. If anything, I’d consider AECOM is driving women within the company to excel,” she concludes.