Kate  Cairns In Touch member profile avatar

Kate Cairns

Experienced NED: Independent advisor, professional speaker and agent of change, Kate brings two decades of experience in civil engineering and infrastructure specializing in sustainable, safe and responsible construction. She is a Chartered Civil Engineer, a Chartered Environmentalist, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and elected member of ICE Council. Telegraph Top 50 Women Engineer (2018). Norther Power Woman 'Person with a Purpose' 2015

Main Industry: Property & Construction
North East / United Kingdom


  • Independent advisor, professional speaker and agent of change, Kate brings two decades of experience in civil engineering and infrastructure specializing in sustainable, safe and responsible construction. She is a Chartered Civil Engineer, a Chartered Environmentalist, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and elected member of ICE Council.
  • Kate has a track record of inspiring (sometimes reluctant) stakeholders. She acts as critical friend in a range of organisations where constructive challenge is crucial to adapting to changing circumstances. She is able to engage at all levels, from site foreman to CEO. She has influenced legislation and policy at European, national and local level to reduce HGV risk to cyclists and pedestrians to encourage active travel. Kate publishes technical papers, speaks at industry conferences and has national TV, radio, and press experience. Her contribution to environment and sustainability was celebrated, as she became Invisible Superhero – ‘Enviro’ as part of the ICE 200 year anniversary.
  • Kate strives for continuous improvement by challenging the status quo, stretching standards and identifying synergies to improve financial, technical, and ethical performance. She is considered, engenders respect and acts with impartiality and integrity. She has instigated, influenced and continues to be involved in the evolution of two national construction industry standards on sustainability (CEEQUAL) and safety (CLOCS).
  • Kate was selected for the Telegraph’s Top 50 Women in Engineering (2018) and awarded Northern Power Women ‘Person with a Purpose’ (2015). She was a judge for the Future Fleet Forum Awards (2019); for the British Construction Industry Awards (BCIA) (2018 & 2019); and for the European Women in Construction & Engineering (WICE) Awards (2018 & 2019). Kate is looking for a NED position where she can bring her experience in engineering, sustainability, safety, risk management and stakeholder engagement.

Board & Member Roles


  • Council Member, ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) (from July 16)
  • Board Member, BRE (British Research Establishment) Global Governing Body (from Feb 16)
  • Chairperson, ICE Fairness Inclusion Respect (FIR) Panel (from July 17, member since April 14)
  • Member, NEFP (North East Freight Partnership) (from July 15)
  • Member, ICE Editorial Panel for ‘Engineering Sustainability’ Journal (from June 13)
  • CLOCS Champion (Construction Logistics & Community Safety) develop new industry standard (from Jan 13)
  • Parish Councillor, Newton-by-the-Sea (from May 13)
  • Member, ICE Active Travel Group (from Nov 12)
  • Founder & Director, See Me Save Me Campaign Organisation (from June 09)


  • Member, ICE Sustainability Panel Executive Group (May 12-July 17)
  • County Councillor for Longhoughton Ward, Northumberland County Council (NCC) (July 14 – May 17)
  • Chairperson, Corporate Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee (May 15 – May 17)
  • Board Member, AONB (Area of Outstanding National Beauty) Northumberland Co Council (July 14- May 17)
  • School Governor, Ellingham Primary School (Apr 13-April 17)
  • Trustee, RoadPeace, national charity for road-crash victims (June 14 – June 16)
  • Director, CEEQUAL Ltd, Improving Sustainability in Civil Engineering (Apr 10 – Feb 16) (& 2004-2006 for WSP)
  • Chairperson, ICE North East Sustainability Panel (Sept 11 – Sept 15)
  • Board Member, SustaiNE, north east champion body for sustainable development (May 07 – Aug 10)

Contact Details:


Independent Advisor & Speaker - sustainabilty, safety, EDI for Cairns Consultancy

Feb 2008 - Present

Advisor on sustainable, safe, responsible business practice for construction, logistics & engineering industry, local authorities & universities:

  • Sustainability: Advocate for active travel; advisor on new industry standards; sustainability strategy, policy, procedure; Assessor & Verifier for CEEQUAL Assessment & Award Scheme to improve sustainability in infrastructure;
  • Construction Logistics: Advocate & advisor on new industry standards on construction logistics & community safety (CLOCS); strategy, policy, procedures for safe vehicles, drivers, routes & operations; motivational presentations to business leaders & national industry conferences; influencing European, national & local policy
  • EDI: Development of ICE Ethics Toolkit & Diversity Action Plan; member of Engineering Equality, group of industry experts to improve diversity in engineering; delivery of EDI webinars and presentations

Business Owner for Cairns Consultancy

Jul 2005 - Apr 2018
  • Kate has over two decades of experience in a variety of roles in the civil engineering sector including 3 years with BAA on Heathrow Terminal 5, following which she founded her consultancy practice in 2005, which specialises in safe, sustainable and responsible business practice within the construction and logistics sectors.
  • Kate has been a key player in the inception and development of industry schemes such as CEEQUAL (sustainable civil engineering) and CLOCS (safe logistics). She is currently a CEEQUAL Verifier and Assessor working on projects across the UK as well as a member of the Infrastructure Working Group involved in the evolution of the scheme. Kate sat on the board of CEEQUAL Ltd for 8 years and was voted by shareholders to be a representative of the British Research Establishment (BRE) Global Governing Body at the point of sale to BRE. Kate's company, Cairns Consultancy, was Highly Commended by Newcastle University for 'Excellent Contractor Performance' in the category 'Contrubution to Ethical, Social and Environmental Responsibility' following her work as a CEEQUAL Assessor on the project.
  • Kate chairs the ICE fairness inclusion and respect (FIR) panel and sits on the ICE editorial panel for the journal Engineering Sustainability. She has had papers and articles published on sustainability, safe logistics, active travel, and equality and diversity. Kate is a professional speaker and presents on her specialist subjects of sustainability, safety, and equality & diversity to company boards, corporate safety forums, future leader conferences.
  • Kate spent three years as a member of Northumberland County Council after being elected in 2014. She successfully lobbied for improved safety and sustainability criteria in the procurement of infrastructure projects. She chaired the corporate performance overview and scrutiny committee.
  • Kate founded the See Me Save Me campaign in 2009 to eliminate risk of HGVs to cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists after her sister was run down from behind by a tipper lorry. She has successfully campaigned at European, national and local level for changes in legislation and policy. She has extensive press experience having been interviewed live on Radio 4 'World at One', national and local BBC TV and radio. There are scores of national, local and trade press articles covering her advocacy work in this area. Within the construction and logistics industry she has become known as a game changer and 'go-to expert' in the field of construction logistics safety.


Kate has challenged influencers and decision makers at every level. She presents a highly professional and compelling case for change and this is evidence by referencing to her campaign in debates in both Houses of Parliament.

Jenny Jones

- Feb 2019

Kate is someone who 'gets' sustainability - at a deep level - and who seems to have done so for a long time. She has great awareness, vision and wisdom. She has great courage too, speaking her mind, and her truth powerfully, when she deems the occasion demands it. She has great mastery of her area of professional competence, along with a sound understanding of the wider reality and context in which it applies. Kate is an exceptional individual with integrity of mind, heart and soul.

Dave Hampton

Company: In Mind In Body - Feb 2019

Kate is a passionate engineer who works hard to make this world a better place.She brings independent thought, challenging where she sees injustice or inequality and does so in a considered, constructive and compelling way. She not only helps her Clients deliver projects with sustainable outcomes but tirelessly campaigns for improved road safety and increased active travel. A Chartered Engineer, Fellow and Trustee of the ICE, a County Councillor and Founder of the See Me Save Me campaign, she is active on many fronts. I really admire her energy and passion. A role model for many. More power to professionals like her!

Anusha Shah

Company: TRIOSS - Feb 2019

Kate spoke at an event for our future leaders - 100 past and present graduates and higher apprentices who are building their future with Tarmac. Her words were both inspiring and challenging. She encouraged us to think about both how the construction sector can do more on sustainability, safety and diversity, as well as our own personal behaviours as consumers. Delegate feedback shows that she really hit the mark and her words have stayed with me on a personal level, too.

Martin Riley

Company: Tarmac - Feb 2019

Kate recently supported our Joint Venture on a significant transport infrastructure project. Her knowledge is vast and she integrates very well into different team environments. Kate provided great challenge to the team in raising the bar on our working practices and standards and is a visionary to where the industry needs to be in the medium and long term. I would have no hesitation in reaching out to Kate again in the future for support.

Grant Mobbs

Company: Ferrovial Agroman - Feb 2019


Institution: Society for the Environment

Qualification: CEnv

Jun 2017

Institution: Institution of Civil Engineers

Qualification: MICE FICE

Sep 2015

Institution: Imperial College

Qualification: MSc (DIC)

Oct 2000

Environmental Technology

Institution: University of Bristol

Qualification: BEng (Hons)

Jul 1994

Civil Engineering with French


Top 50 Women in Engineering (2018)

Feb 2019

ICE 200 Anniversary 'Invisible Superhero' Enviro

Feb 2019

Changing industry culture with respect to sustainability, safety and equality diversity and inclusion. Voted by visitors as the most popular superhero of the exhibition

'Excellent Contractor Performance'

Feb 2019

"Contribution to ethical, social and environmental responsibility"

'Person with a Purpose'

Feb 2019

Commended for contribution to changing industry safety culture

Health & Safety Award

Feb 2019

Shortlisted for contribution to changing work related road risk management, instigation of national CLOCS standard.

Briefing: Active travel: a review of ICE sustainability proceedings

Feb 2017

Publisher: ICE Proceedings, Transport

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National Women in Engineering Day

Jun 2016

Publisher: ICE Publishing

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Editorial: Themed issue: Facilitating Active Travel – Part II

Jun 2016
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Psychological factors to motivate sustainable behaviours

Feb 2014

Publisher: ICE Proceedings, Urban Design & Planning

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Sister vows to fight for safer roads

Feb 2019
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"Engineer Kate, turned into a Superhero"

Jun 2018
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