Michele is crucial link in London's transport plan
From designing and implementing the congestion charge to discussing the future of Battersea Power Station with Boris Johnson – it's all in a days work for Michele Dix. Chief Reporter Sarah Carey caught up with the current managing director of Planning for Transport for London, to find out more about her extraordinary career, in the hope of inspiring more young people in Grimsby to follow in her footsteps.
MICHELE Dix is living proof that dreams can come true – if you work hard enough.
The 57-year-old, who has "always loved maths and creating, drawing and inventing things" now uses her skills to shape key transportation issues in the capital, having secured her dream job.
She has been involved in projects ranging from the installation of the UK's first urban cable car to co-ordinating the volunteers needed to help the three million additional people expected to arrive for the Olympics.
But, while she may have risen to great heights in the world of engineering, she remains very-much down to earth and likes nothing more than to come home to Grimsby, see her family and, of course, enjoy "the country's best" fish and chips.
She said: "It's really nice coming home and I always like going to the seafront and getting fish and chips."
Born in Binbrook, she and her family spent her first 12 years travelling around the globe with her father, who was in the RAF.
However, when he retired from the service, the family settled in Waltham, where her mother Nancy, the former deputy headteacher of Waltham Junior School, had been brought up and her grandmother Florence Rose worked as the village postmistress.
Michele began her education at Clee Girls' School, where she further developed her love of maths and creativity.
And, on leaving school, she was accepted on to a civil engineering course at Leeds University, which offered one of the best courses in the country, but also had ten other girls among the 100 applicants.
She said: "With all the other courses I looked at, I would have been the only girl throughout the three years.
"Civil engineering is what I wanted to do as it was putting that creative skill together with maths. I wanted to design bridges and buildings – things like that, but you also want companionship."
Michele added: "In the real world, it is still male dominated. Even though it is now more normal for girls to apply to study engineering, the boardrooms are still very much male dominated.
But she has never let this hold her back and her current post was one she had coveted since first leaving Leeds University and going to work for the head of transport planning at Greater London Council (GLC).
Michele worked as a chartered civil engineer through the GLC's transport planning graduate scheme until 1985, when she "went off to be a consultant for 15 years".
She then joined TFL, in a job-share as director of congestion charging, before being promoted to managing director of planning – the job she had "always wanted"– which she has held alone since the retirement of her former job-share partner.
She said: "I am responsible for infrastructure and what is going on in London."
Projects in the pipeline include a new ferry cross and road tunnel spanning the Thames and developing the infrastructure needed to support the planned new HS2 high speed train line to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
She said: "If people have been cycling or walking to work to avoid congestion on the tubes, or deliveries have been made at night when it's quieter, we want to look at how we can encourage them to continue."
However, she said the best part about becoming an engineer was the number of doors it can open. She said: "If you get an engineering degree you can go into so many different spheres. The skills are valued by other industries, including banks and project managers.
"It's a very fulfilling job – I have never met a bored engineer."