What is your current role?
What does that involve, look like on a day-to-day basis?
I work with a wide portfolio of clients on business growth and what changes might be required throughout the business to achieve their goals. So balancing the demands of each client and effective time management are critical/ On the engineering side I work in supply chain management with clients to source the best products globally, including foundries, machining, and other metal manufactured products. I am an avid networker and love speaking with and meeting new people this enhances opportunities for partnerships and collaborations with complementary businesses to extend the scope of my business.
I am also an Enterprise Adviser in Sheffield working on inspiring and preparing young people through the school’s careers programme about the opportunities open to them whilst building more strategic networks to help develop a whole school strategy for careers, enterprise and employer engagement and link them to local business contacts and networks.
How did you get started working in STEM?
I was looking for a new challenge at what was quite a difficult point in my life and wanted to use my sales and business development skills in a sales role that would have the potential to travel and use my languages. I landed a role as an Export Sales Executive with Wm Cook Ltd, where my engineering ‘apprenticeship’ started.
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
My professional qualifications are linguistic and business based. Throughout my career I have completed bespoke courses related to sales and business development and management including Winkler Pricing and Sales Negotiations, Finance for Non-finance Managers, Role Clarity, NLP courses in ‘Who will buy me’. Now I am concentrating on CPD related to Leadership and Coaching, Corporate Governance, Due Diligence, Networking Strategies and how to become a NED.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I am passionate about how we make things, how they work and the concept behind them. I have always been fascinated by flight and steam engines and because without STEM and everything that it offers the world would stop. STEM is part of everyday life. My favourite projects were being involved in supplying components for the Joint Strike Fighter – vectored thrust, and Typhoon EJ200 Eurofighter. Beyond that you meet the most amazing insightful people.
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
When I accepted the sales role at Wm Cook, I had zero foundry experience (not a clue about how castings were made – the closest I had come to sand forming was on a beach as a child), I didn’t know one end of a technical drawing to the other, so I looked for the most experienced technical people in the business and spent a considerable amount of time shadowing them, asking curious questions and finding out fantastic answers to enable me to fulfil my role. You need to be an interested and willing pupil and it is great to have a workplace mentor and learn first hand. I have also been made redundant and to learn that it is not personal was a very formative lesson in resilience and in understanding my core skills and how transferable they were. In reality, I have grown both professionally and personally. I love the variety I have now and am proud to be able to work with my clients in growing their businesses.
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
See STEM everywhere building Lego is engineering, maths and physics, Baking is chemistry and maths, if you are great at saving money that’s economics. There are many more ways into STEM than you can imagine in terms of roles and career opportunities. Know your passions if you love dinosaurs that’s geology and paleontology, if you watch the weather that’s meterology and environmental science. Be curious, stay curious and there is no such thing as a ‘daft’ question just something you’d like the answer too.
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
It would be great to see some smaller businesses be in a position to give real career progression and development pathway with regular two way review with an opportunity to challenge/discuss business and personal challenges.
Retain talent through flexible working conditions such as: working from home policies (which are much more likely to be second place since the Covid 19 pandemic); compressed working hours; job sharing all mean that women can find an ideal balance in life. The ability to return to work with a fully structured and supportive back to work integration plan to brush up their skills and rebuild confidence before returning to STEM employment on a more permanent basis. Flexible working leads to greater company loyalty as no one wants to lose a great working environment.
Then organisations need to pay equally between the sexes. It’s often the same old story but STEM roles are no different. Women are often paid up to 20% lower wages when compared to their male counterparts. There is a simple solution here – if we want to retain more women to fill all levels of roles, we need to pay everyone the same base line value. Obviously, skill set and experience will allow for some notable differences, but base line should be the same.