Annette Hemmings, Head of Quality Assurance, Brandon Medical
Head of Quality Assurance
What does that involve, look like on a day-to-day basis?
Quality affects everyone within the business which means I engage with all levels and different functions (internally and externally). No two days are the same – one day I can be performing a root cause investigation, impact assessing and decision making, the next learning about a new set of regulations. However, there is a common theme that runs throughout and that is ‘Doing the right thing’.
How did you get started working in STEM?
I think my late Dad was my biggest influencer, he was a plumber and heating engineer who would show me how to take things apart, work out the problem but then have the ability to fix and put back together. I’ll never forget sayings such as ‘measure twice, cut once’, ‘make sure you state the units of measurement/grade’ – something I sense check every day.
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
BSc (Hons) Forensic & Analytical Science with a year’s industrial placement. I had my daughter towards the end of my course so this was a big achievement for me and taught me a lot of valuable ‘life skills’ along the way. During my 10 years working at an upper tier COMAH site, I acquired a number of occupational qualifications relating to Health & Safety.
I’m keen to progress further, so my next challenge is to become a Chartered Quality Professional – Member. I’m looking forward to sharing best practice and networking with people on a similar wavelength!
Why do you love working in STEM?
Whilst my role is very much desk based these days, I relish getting out on the shop floor and working through problems with the team. It’s important to me that I can see any Quality issues in real life – see, hear and feel.
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
I don’t like conflict and I’ve had to develop my assertiveness over the years. I’ve had to have tough conversations, sometimes even with senior leaders, regarding risk-related issues. This has varied from rejecting a batch to instructing analysts to repeat a weeks’ worth of testing because the data was questionable. I overcame this by understanding that I’m acting as a gatekeeper for the business’ reputation and integrity as a fundamental part of my role.
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
They’ll be days when things don’t work out as you had planned, my days working in a laboratory and alongside engineers taught me this. It’s important to learn from any outcomes, stay focused and try again. I think resilience is key to anyone working in the STEM sector.
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
I think initiatives like this are Important and essential as they show that women can progress in STEM and that there is a variety of different industries/roles out there! Businesses can play a huge role in shifting the perception of ‘dirty’ factory environments with men in overalls. Businesses should be encouraged to open up their doors, showcase innovation and the rewards e.g., new product launch in the market and impact on everyday lives.