Wajiha Afsar (Jia)

Constructing Excellence

Jia is a consistent driver of new ways of thinking, empowering her teams and delivering quality work.

It is her ability to understand people and their needs that truly stands her out from the rest. She is often seen going above and beyond to ensure all voices are represented as the Employee Engagement Representative for Atkins Cardiff and the Atkins #wow ambassador for recognising staff. Within the wider industry, she has already been noted for her efforts by being shortlisted for the ‘STEM awards Woman of the Year’ category and ‘RIBA journal competition winner on her piece for the Well Being of Future Generations Act (WBFGA) 2020’.


With the work she is doing to create a Business Response for the WBFGA and put it at the forefront of everything we do, she hopes to lead by example. Starting locally, within our offices, under directors she has held CPD awareness sessions after undertaking surveys and initiated a ‘live’ brochure containing several case studies. The emphasis of these case studies spans across the different divisions (not just architecture) & focusses on the ‘7 well-being goals and 5 ways of working’ that is set out within the Act. Importantly, this brochure highlights the great people working on our projects and our future commitments towards a more sustainable world.

Alongside this, her belief in Volunteering as a great way to learn, share knowledge and empower others is evidenced via Television, Magazines, such as Arch Daily (and others) including videos:

  • Working with Atkins staff to hand build a playground using sustainable materials at the ‘Wildplace Bristol Zoo’.
  • Within an external team sustainably designed and onsite constructed a live project of an extension to a school. Extensive material experimentation administered using a variety of modern methods: robotics, traditional construction and CNC milling with the Architectural Association and Royal College of Arts volunteering.
  • Raised funds and travelled abroad for a non- governmental organisation ‘Building Trust Charity’. Worked with an International group using cost efficient, sustainable materials and earthen architecture methods such as clay, straw, wattle & daub to create a set of classroom walls where sustainable methods and ways of life are taught with the support of the local client; Agrarian Institute Ciuffelli.
  • Won a competition to design and construct a sustainable pavilion at the Karachi Biennale affiliated with the Venice Biennale. The design for this pavilion re-used wasted wooden electric cable reels and their existing metal to create a space for people visiting the local Government Emergency hospital where prior to this there was nowhere to sit.
  • Participated in Design calls within Atkins to re-imagine what the idea of school’s could be and their impact on the future generations including working collaboratively with a multi-disciplinary design team outside of my hours to design a project within the smog ridden city of Krakow. The concept of the scheme focussed on significantly reducing pollution and required in depth research and analysis into sustainable materials.

Externally, Jia looks to give back to the community via STEM events, lecturing university students and being a mentor for RSAW/RIBA affiliated programs. Through all of this, she hopes to make a sustainable impact to the world and as a true leader, empower teams & embody the change that she believes in.

Key Achievements

  • Shortlisted for STEM Woman of the Year awards 2020 – seen as a great communicator, collaborator and team worker
  • Competition winning entry on the ‘Well being of Future Generations Act’ to be published in RIBA Journal 2020 – Driving the change and spreading aware of this Act, instrumental in creating the Business response to this Act & ensuring it is embedded into current Band B school projects
  • Leadership is about changing mindsets – As Employee Engagement representative set up Cardiff Infrastructure Catchups with the wider teams – Geotechnical engineers, Structural Engineers, Drainage Engineers, Architects – to cross communicate, share lessons learned and feel comfortable to ask questions.