Lisa Pogson, Managing Director, Airmaster
I am MD at Airmaster and I have worked here in various roles since it started in 1992. I am also Chair of Rotherham’s Business Growth Board and Chair of Grimm & Co., as well as a Trustee at The Source. I’m also Mum to Hannah 😊
What does that involve, look like on a day-to-day basis?
My job is to support a fantastic team of people, whilst they carry out installation and maintenance of energy efficient heating and cooling systems, ventilation and public health water services, on a daily basis. I aim to raise the profile of the business and our team every day and I am happy to say that is a great job. I am really proud of Airmaster becoming an employee owned business. I work with our team and customers, suppliers and sub contractors to help the business work efficiently and effectively as possible and also to get the message out about what our values are.
How did you get started working in STEM?
Well, my Dad was an electrician and started as an older apprentice in a lift company. He ended up touring the country fitting lifts in many buildings until he retired. A lot of our family worked in construction and engineering roles (my Grandad was a Crucible steel man in his younger days too). I have always been fascinated by seeing things change and being built and the built environment for me is so cool. I started my full time working life in an Architectural Practice as an Office Junior, on a YTS (1984) and in various Construction businesses, with a few years working in Admin at Sheffield Hallam University, in my mid 20’s. I fell into the HVAC industry when I met my husband (plumber/heating engineer) and his brother was setting up Airmaster (Aircon Engineer). I was doing a part time MSc in Management (Resources) when I came to the business and was lucky to go on a Factory Visit to Daikin in Bruges soon after starting. Wow! Kaizen came to life, I saw ‘robots’ and there was a good mix of female engineers in the factories too – this was over 20 years ago. I decided right then, I loved the industry!
What qualifications did you take or gain along the way?
I left school with a handful of GCSEs but through lifelong learning, I did a GNVQ, HNC, HND and a Masters Degree in Management (Resources) at University of Hull, via Rotherham College and I graduated when I was over 30. It was hard work doing night school and evenings and weekends, but it was worth it and I am proud to support and mentor others to do this now too. I am currently considering a further education course, but not sure how I would fit it in…
Why do you love working in STEM?
All of the above and I just love working with people that make things work, build things, solve problems and you can see a result. I was never the best at maths or science, but now I work in this field, I see the relevance of everything that I didn’t understand then. I know now, that if I had understood how it all applied to what I was learning, I might have been an engineer, instead of down the Finance/HR/Administration route. Whatever, I love it all, never stop learning and I already have a Master of Science degree. Maybe one day…
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how have you overcome them?
I have had lots of help and support by mentors, friends and family. Equally, I have been challenged by people I would not have expected. I have overcome them with help and support from some great female mentors and some great guys as allies. I have been quite resilient, even at the worst of times. I was very worried when I had my daughter late, that I would lose my knowledge quickly. The biggest challenge to me has been ensuring commitment to the business when trying hard to be a good mum too. I know that, at times, I have tried to keep everyone happy to the detriment of my own wellbeing. Hindsight is wonderful! Make sure that you put the oxygen mask on you first – otherwise you won’t be able to breathe and who will look after others then?!
What advice would you offer for someone joining the STEM sectors?
Enjoy it, work hard, help others on the way up/always try and give back in some way. In my view it can be limitless – we are building the future, quite literally!
What do we need to do as an industry to attract and keep more women in STEM?
Value the women we already have and use them as Role Models! Just like in these articles. Celebrate what we have, how far we have come and plan small steps on what is coming up. I think being as flexible as possible, around caring responsibilities, though I realise this is a massive challenge for businesses, the smaller, the more difficult. Any help and support is great. You usually get back support tenfold in the long run. It may not seem it at the time and some people do use it to their advantage, however, there will always be those people. Don’t let them spoil it for others – Try and have good policies around care leave, etc. It is important to the business that everyone is on board and aware of them and can help and support where possible.