"Axis supported my needs as a new person in this country, encouraging me to work part-time and hybrid"

Jane's Journey

In this inspiring interview, Jane Didinska describes how Axis supported her after fleeing the war in her home country Ukraine, and talks about combining her knowledge of landscape with her architecture and engineering education.

Hi Jane, you chose to focus on engineering at university – tell me a bit about why this was important to you?
My grandparents were design engineers – grandpa designing rockets and grandma designing satellites. My mum graduated in applied mathematics and my dad has a PhD in chemistry. Growing up in this environment, I realised that inventing and creating is important for the society I want to live in. It was easy for me to understand numbers and terminology. So when I was faced with the choice of which department to choose, I knew right away it was engineering.

You describe how the process of studying helped you realise you were interested in landscape, so you decided to lean into landscape design and architecture. How did you go about this?
When university added a lot of specialised engineering subjects in my third year, I realised I would not be able to enjoy working in this field and as long as I could change something in my education, I should do it.

I have loved looking at books and magazines with landscape and plants since I was a child. By the time I went to university I had a lot of knowledge about soil, rocks, and hydrology. On the plant side I understood plant biology, root systems, light tolerance, growth rate, etc. So I decided to develop my knowledge of landscape and combine it with architecture and engineering, and found my way.

In 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine – can you tell me a bit about how that affected you and how you came to the UK?
On 24 February 2022 the war started at 4am. At 5am I had a phone call with my manager and decided not to go to work. By 6am we were travelling to the western part of Ukraine – we had decided to stop in the countryside to wait out the bombing of our city. But unfortunately, the situation only got worse. My firm had completely suspended operations. Schools didn’t work. There were problems with food.

When we read in the news that the UK was opening visas for Ukrainians, we made a difficult but fateful decision that I and my children would go to the UK. A British family helped us to get visas and took us into their home. They helped and supported us when we arrived.

How did you become aware of Axis?
As everything was new to me when I arrived in the UK, finding a job was also difficult. Many British people wanted to help me and the boys, and one day a friend at the school gate advised me to talk to Jon, one of the Directors at Axis. They were landscape architects and it was possible that they may be looking for a new employee. I met Jon for a coffee and talked about my skills and experience and Axis was able to offer me a role using my skills in computer aided design.

Jane Didinska at Axis Planning Consultancy

How did Axis support you?
Axis is amazing – the company worked around my needs as a new person in this country, encouraging me to come to work part-time with hybrid working. This meant I could work my hours into three days a week. I could also go to college to improve my English, and collect my kids after school and spend time with them. The team are all really supportive and friendly.

What do you enjoy your role?
Firstly I like to create drawings using software. Secondly, I realise that we can create something unique and useful with the customer. Thirdly, that we can update the old and find the perfect solution without destroying the original.

What’s the most interesting thing in your job?
If you have patience, the most interesting thing is to see the result of your work in real life. Created drawings or 3D models on the computer look perfect. But when you see on the construction site that you have selected and calculated everything correctly, it is the most interesting and inspiring thing.

What’s the best thing about Axis?
Working at the Axis you don’t feel lonely. The company and employees are always ready to help, advise and support you.

And finally, what three tips would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

  • Embrace any opportunity given to you. Build your knowledge and experience, even if it means going outside your comfort zone.
  • Never give up. Sometimes you think it’s hard, but be diligent and you can see how important everything you’ve done is.
  • Feel free to interrogate or ask additional questions. The more correctly you understand the task in front of you, the better and faster you will be able to do it.
“Axis supported my needs as a new person in this country, encouraging me to work part-time and hybrid”
Jane Didinska
Assistant Landscape Architect

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