Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Role Models

Elspeth Duxbury

Back to list

Elspeth Duxbury

Awards: Entrepreneurial Woman of the Future, 2008


Elspeth co-founded ‘Intelligent Space’ in 2000 after graduating university with a degree in Chemistry. She used her knowledge of scientific systems to identify a way of analysing how people interact with the street environment. Her work caught the eye of Atkins, which bought Intelligent Space in 2007.

The judges said: “Elspeth is a real visionary. She is not only an entrepreneur but now an ‘intrapreneur’ - driving entrepreneurial thinking across a much larger organisation and applying those same skills to a new challenge. She is a great example of the ‘power of passion’ - her enthusiasm for her subject has helped her take a niche and become an undisputed authority on it.”
The awards - founded two years ago to identify female role models under the age of 35 - celebrate rising stars in the business, public and creative world. They are hosted by Real Business magazine in association with Shell.

Elspeth is responsible for the operational performance of Intelligent Space which specializes in mapping pedestrian movements, and works to help improve public space, minimize social risks and maximize economic benefits. The practice uses science-based methods to turn pedestrian movement from an undervalued resource into a tangible and manageable asset. Since its foundation in 2000, the business has worked for renowned clients among government bodies, property owners, developers and consultants. Elspeth’s blend of entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm and technical excellence marks her out as a key player in Atkins vision to become the best infrastructure consultancy in the world.

Elspeth is joined by eight other individuals singled out as the next generation of female leaders and role models. These include BT’s 32-year-old group director of strategy, Olivia Garfield, and Dr Prudence Mutowo, a cancer post-doctoral research fellow committed to mentoring young women scientists.

Lord Kirkham CVO, chairman of DFS and judging panel, said: “Diversity often slips down the agenda when the economy hardens. My message to businesses is, let it slip at your peril. This year’s shortlist provides a compelling argument for championing female leaders in your organisation. These, quite simply, are women in business who mean business.”

Andy Southern, managing director of transport planning and management for Atkins, said, “Elspeth’s achievements in her career to date have been outstanding. Her energy, enthusiasm, intellect and business acumen have contributed greatly to her success as an entrepreneur, a business leader and a key player in Atkins future growth. She is a fantastic role model for other young aspiring leaders committed to improving our built environment.”

Back to list

Our supporters