Emma Gibert, Team Leader, from Meccano to Sub Antarctica


As a little girl, Team Leader Emma Gibert preferred playing with Meccano over dolls. Now, she has been involved in designing maritime constructions for 17 years, all around the world. One of her most gratifying projects was designing the quay wall in King Edward Point on Sub Antarctica, one of the coldest and most remote locations in the world.

"Originally I come from Spain, born and raised in Barcelona. In high school, I had a stronger affinity for the exact sciences. So, pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering was a logical choice. By working on civil structures, I contribute to something specific and tangible for society. That aspect attracted me to this field," says Emma.

Adiós Spanish sun

"During an international exchange program at TU Delft, I met my husband. After completing my studies in Barcelona, I decided to exchange the Spanish sun for a future in the Netherlands. In late 2006, I choose for an international environment and signed my employment contract with DMC, the consultancy and engineering firm of BAM Infra Netherlands. Starting as a Structural Engineer, I joined the Maritime Constructions department. It was a challenging position for a novice engineer. Fortunately, I had many kind and knowledgeable colleagues who helped me, including learning the Dutch language, which was initially quite challenging." 

Sir David Attenborough

Global Connector

"As a Structural Engineer, I worked on designs for maritime projects all around the world, from Qatar to Papua New Guinea, and from Australia to Panama. Sometimes, I even had the opportunity to spend periods abroad. In Australia, I worked for over a year on the designs of two wharves in Papua New Guinea and Darwin. I learned a lot from that experience," says Emma. "In mid-2018, I had the chance to grow from a Senior Structural Engineer to a Design Manager. My extense knowledge and experience served me well in that new role. As a Design Manager, I established connections by making the interests of all parties clear and communicating openly and transparently. I ensured that everyone knew what needed to be done, with clear agreements and the right conditions, on time and within budget."

It is not a breeze

"My first completed project as a Design Manager was the King Edward Point shipyard on the island of South Georgia in Sub Antarctica. BAM has a partnership with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to carry out several projects. The King Edward Point shipyard is the second project for which DMC provided the design after the new shipyard in Rothera (Antarctica). Renovation and expansion of the quay wall were necessary to accommodate the new British polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough. I am very proud of my colleagues," she says with a smile. "The collaboration within BAM Nuttall, BAM International, DMC and with various suppliers was excellent. Challenges, which were definitely present, were overcome together. Considering the harsh and remote conditions, it is a major achievement for everyone who worked on this project."

Simple, Yet Challenging

"The existing quay from the 1980s needed renewal. A relatively small project, you might think. However, the location of this project makes it challenging. The extremely remote island is only accessible by ship," describes Emma.

"We started with a preliminary design and a budget for this project in August 2018. After BAS's approval in April 2019, the project team continued at full speed and completed the detailed design. By the end of 2019, all preparations were made, ready for the shipment of all components and construction equipment for a boat journey of at least four weeks.

Emma continues, "Our goal was to build the new quay in one season before the weather would change and winter would start. With a team of fourteen employees, we started implementation in January 2020. By May 2020, we had completed this challenging task ahead of schedule. Within the planned timeline and budget, and in good collaboration between design and implementation. And with a very satisfied client." 


Finished Quay

"We essentially built the new quay around the old quay, with a design that wraps around. With this wrap-around design, we saved a lot of time and material because we didn't have to demolish the old quay, and materials didn't need to be removed and transported. All structures in the water are made of sheet pile walls, the heaviest type available. These sheets are easy to maintain and have a long lifespan," Emma proudly explains. The new quay includes an extension of a second structure (dolphin). Additionally, the quay has three mooring points where the ship is secured with ropes. It also features a sink anchor to safely accommodate larger vessels.

In my new combined role as both Program Manager Sustainability and Teamleader Maritime Structures I am determined to achieve a significant reduction in the emissions generated by our designs and in the primary . This while implementing climate adaptation and biodiversity measures on all our projects.

To the End of the World

"How surreal is it to work in an environment with wild animals? Of course, we kept a very close eye on them, because we wanted to disturb their natural habitat as little as possible. The nature on the island of South Georgia is extraordinary. You can see millions of penguins, albatrosses, and seals. Dutch tv maker Floortje Dessing visited this area with her program 'Floortje to the End of the World.' She called this area the most remote location in the world. Although I didn't have the pleasure of going to King Edward Point myself, that is certainly not an understatement," assures Emma.

Outside My Comfort Zone

“In 2022 I was asked to fulfill the new role of Program Manager Sustainability and lead the transition to sustainable designing for BAM Infraconsult, at first something that felt somewhat outside of my comfort zone. My doubts lasted short and changed into the convincement  that  protecting our planet is important, and within our power.
A few months later the chance arose to combine my sustainability role with the position of Teamleader for the Marine Infrastructure Team. With my knowledge of the team, my love for engineering and teamwork and my coordinating and strategic skills I directly embraced this challenge.

In my new combined role as both Program Manager for Sustainability and Team Leader for Maritime Structures, I am committed to achieving a substantial reduction in the emissions generated by our designs. Additionally, I am dedicated to implementing climate adaptation and biodiversity measures across all of our projects.”

Read more on King Edward Point Project