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

Emily White

Emily White

Emily White

Managing Director, Entap

How I got in to engineering

My Mum and Dad will tell you that it’s because when I was little I used to have a magic touch with making things work that were broken. My Mum’s favourite story is that we were once on holiday and they had been trying all morning to get the washing machine to work while I’d been swimming. I walked into the room after they left and the next thing they knew was it started working again. (To be honest I don’t remember what I did as I was so young!) My addition to that story is that I wanted to be a mechanic when I was younger and a teacher told me in one of those career test/days that I had to aim higher and should maybe consider mechanical engineering. That’s about it really and I’ve always been good at Maths.

Interesting things about my background

I could tell you everything you didn’t want to know about a nappy having worked on the production line at Pampers.

I read the fourth Harry Potter book in Spanish when I travelled the world after university – I was trying to learn the language and it seemed like a good idea. I hadn’t read the English version.

I volunteered in Costa Rica doing maintenance on national parks and caring for wild and domestic animals, such as turtles and jaguars. It was during this time, where I sat on a beach on the edge of a lake used for hydroelectricity with mountains in the background with wind turbines on the top of it. It was then that I realised I wanted to use my engineering degree to work in renewables.

I volunteered in Canada on a farm where I assisted in designing and building irrigation systems. I studied in Canada for a year.

My advice for future engineers

Don’t limit yourself by becoming too specific an engineer early on – it’s good to find a topic that really motivates you as after that it becomes easy and so success comes naturally. Engineering is such a broad field that if you choose the wrong area first then there’s always another area to try if you’ve left your options open. Nappies and wind turbines are polar opposites in terms of effect on the environment but my qualities were right for both – I know I’m a much happier person working in the renewables sector. 

Plans for the future

Continue to work towards helping renewable energy become truly sustainable.

A bit more about me

Having graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a distinction in Mechanical Engineering with Financial Management, I gained Chartered Engineer status (CEng) from The Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 2009. 

My drive and passion for engineering was acknowledged during my final year at university when I was awarded the ‘Professor Mellanby Prize’ from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 

My achievements in the field of engineering continued throughout my university years. I gained other awards for meritorious performance including: 
Hammerman Award from The Incorporation of Hammerman of Glasgow

Placed on the Dean’s List three times during university

Motherwell Bridge Group Prize• Margaret K Keir Prize

Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College Prize for Mathematics

Where did all of this lead to?

 At 34, I’m now the managing director of Entap – a London-based European renewable energy asset management company. The company has an annual turnover of around £1.5 million and manages onshore wind assets of 450MW comprising 187 wind turbines.

Created in 2005, Entap has cumulative experience of managing over 1,500MW of wind and solar projects across the project lifecycle with portfolios across Europe and offices in London, Ireland and Cyprus.

Leading the operations and maintenance (O&M) functions for the onshore wind part of the business, my additional responsibilities include overseeing project development, acquisition and managing the due diligence phases relating to the investment and financing of European projects.

I also direct a team of project managers in the implementation of renewable energy construction contracts. To date, this has included four wind farms consisting of approximately 120 turbines (310 MW) in Sweden, Cyprus and the UK.

When I’m not carrying out performance reviews, implementing contractual compliance, managing contractors and reporting to banks and investors, I enjoy climbing mountains, running marathons and traveling. 

What can the industry do to attract more female engineers?

 I think one of the big problems is that school girls do not carry on with Physics and Maths through to later years where the simplicity and practicality of how Maths and Physics is around us, in everything we do, is understood. There is a stigma surrounding it being difficult in early school years, which is before you learn the true underlying concepts. I remember one of the most enlightening days in 5th or 6th year at school when I discovered that differentiation and integration are all that divide distance, speed and acceleration or length, area and volume of a shape. I think if females can get through the early maths years without being disheartened and they meet the right role models before choosing their degrees, there will be more females to enter engineering courses and therefore more engineers in industry. 

An analogy which I don’t think many females hear before they choose medicine over engineering, which is quite common these days, is that medicine is just engineering of the body, which means if you’re thinking of choosing medicine, then think, are you sure you don’t want to know how the world/universe works rather than just the body?

What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing female engineers?

 Lots of females think they have to behave like a man to succeed in a man’s world. I think the biggest challenge is making females believe acting like yourself is just as good if not better. Everyone knows engineering is still a man’s world but if women don’t behave as themselves, it always will be. The most successful women I know in industry are the ones that, on first entering a room, act like themselves and get treated as if they don’t know how the real world works, only to be by the end of one meeting, the only person anyone wants to talk and listen to.  

 

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