My route to CIWEM Chartership

CIWEM president and Worley ports practice lead Bushra Hussain FCIWEM C.WEM CEng FICE shares with us how she became a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager and CIWEM Fellow

I’m Ports Practice Lead for Worley, for the Middle East and Africa region based in Dubai. In this role I am involved in large scale energy projects, leading a team of marine engineering professionals across South Africa, the UAE and Spain.

I graduated with an honour’s degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from UCL in London in 1997 and have 26 years’ experience in the design and construction of large-scale maritime projects in the UAE and Gulf region.

The application

Becoming a Fellow of CIWEM and the ICE are pinnacles of my career. Attaining professional membership and Chartered status with CIWEM was a professional milestone for sure, but it was much more than that too. It was and always will be a statement of how important the environment is to me. It has added value to my career and is also a mark of recognition that showcases my commitment to the highest professional and ethical standards. It not only gives me a sense of achievement but also allows colleagues and clients to know what I stand for.

Becoming Chartered was my plan from the onset. As soon as I started my career, I began preparing quarterly reports, ensuring I was getting relevant and frequent training and embraced varied roles and responsibilities that would enable me to become a well-grounded engineer with diverse experience.

After approximately six years I decided I was ready. I felt I had met all the core competencies and attributes required, had a good amount of training and extensive on the job experience. That was my route, but there are no fixed routes. Anyone whether following a recognised training agreement or not can become Chartered. If the will and intention is there, a route will be found.

For me, it was a professional and personal goal to become Chartered. Having the post nominals after my name gives prospective employers and clients the confidence that I have reached a benchmark of professional recognition. Clients are to a greater extent expecting team leaders and key roles to be filled by chartered/ professional engineers from internationally recognised institutions. Getting chartered also supports opportunities to take on greater roles of responsibility in the workplace as well as potential for promotions.


The main barrier was probably having the confidence or preparedness to go for the Chartered professional review. With support from peers, my sponsors, and my employer at the time, I gained the confidence to go for it.

One of the challenges I faced was having insufficient site supervision experience at the time of applying. I was involved in construction but mainly from the office with periodic visits. I made the most of those site visits, learning as much as possible for the resident engineer to bridge the gap.

Professional interview

Mentoring was extremely important for helping me to prepare. I was lucky to have had the support of a local group of recently Chartered professionals that provided mentoring and guidance. I am eternally grateful for the peer support I received.

The project I selected for the presentation was a marine facility on Yasat Ali Island, 20km off the coast of Abu Dhabi. My decision to select this project was based on the broad spectrum of marine works covered under the scope, and the key role I played in the project. The island was also of both ecological and archaeological significance, as most of the island is recognised as a preservation site, so I had to go through a rigorous environmental approvals process which added to the interest of the project for me.

Becoming a Fellow

After years of being a role of seniority it seemed like the most natural progression to apply to be a CIWEM Fellow.

I checked the credentials for Fellowship, and I felt met several of them, so I knew it was time to take that step. Again, mentoring and support from my sponsors was key. Getting the right guidance and advise and getting my documentation checked by them before submission was critical to my success.

My top tips for a successful application

  • What I’m pleased I did was stay determined, even without a training agreement.
  • What I shouldn’t have done was wait for six years from starting my career to actually going for the Chartered Professional Review. I was probably ready sooner but lacked the confidence to go for it.
  • What I might do differently next time is find a peer or mentor earlier on in my career to provide both moral and professional support.
  • I would advise someone to sign up to your local branch or find a topic specific network to get involved with. Our networks will provide invaluable support and are are great for keeping up to date, on topical issues.
  • Stay determined, there is no right or wrong route.
  • It is never too late, there are many excellent professionals out there who just did not get around to getting chartered but still want to. There is a route to chartership for everyone irrespective of your age and experience and location in the world.

What’s next

With 26 years of experience, I now want to give back to the profession by mentoring and sponsoring others. I am eternally grateful to my mentors and sponsors that guided me, and it is a privilege to be in a position to mentor and sponsor others now.

Want to become a Chartered member or Fellow? Find out more here.

Find out more about Bushra's presidential theme here.

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