we4DRR members in focus: Niki Beyer Portner

presentation slide of webinar
Foto: we4DRR

On December 6th, 2023, the second part of our winter webinar series we4DRR members in focus was held online. Niki Beyer Portner from Bureau d'ingénieurs SABERT gave insights about her career, current work projects and personal views on work and life.

Niki, who has a degree in civil engineering, currently works for Sabert bureau d'ingenieurs SA in Switzerland. At the company, she is responsible for all things related to hydrology and hydraulics, such as wastewater management or drinking water supply. She is a founding member and member of the Steering Committee of we4DRR, member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Board of INTERPRAEVENT and has been managing director of her own company HYDROCOSMOS for 20 years. She is currently working on two hazard mitigation projects: a highway bridge where the forest is rapidly disappearing due to draught and causing erosion, and a surface runoff project for a small chalet in Rougemont.


  • As a child I wanted to become: At about 15, I had to work on a school project about the Sahara desert and therefore wanted to work with water
  • My perfect work day starts with: coffee and muesli
  • The three most important things on my office desk are: computer, phone and some chocolate
  • I restore my energy by: cooking and sports, talking to my husband who is also a civil engineer about troublesome clients and stressful days
  • My secret of success is: being well organised and knowing exactly when to do what as well as being curious

On childcare, being self-employed and role models

Niki's parents were great role models and never imposed gender roles on their three daughters. This is a principle that Niki and her husband have also followed with their two sons, as she believes it is important for children to see both parents taking responsibility for household chores, having a job and being involved and equal as children at home. Niki believes that in Switzerland there is still an assumption that women should take care of the children and that fathers lack opportunities for part-time work and parental leave.

Organising family life and looking after young children has been the biggest challenge in Niki's working life. She founded her own business with someone who understood this and was able to work there part-time, but still had a lot of responsibility. At the beginning of her career, people also doubted her decision to work on construction sites etc. She advises young professionals not to pay attention to people's comments and to follow their chosen path.

Niki has a large formal and informal network, she values her colleagues who can help with problems and answer questions, but also her family and friends who are her private network. Niki believes that success is having a job that you love and are therefore good at, and being respected and valued by your colleagues. To cope with hard days at work, she likes to get some exercise after work to help her wind down and she has one day off a work-week and starts her day very relaxed with breakfast and a bath to restore her energy.

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