EurIng CEng FIMechE FWES JP
Managing Director, Ardenoak Consulting Ltd
Penny was introduced to the idea of a career in engineering, and WES, by Hilda Blount at the age of 14 – for which she will be eternally grateful! She narrowly avoided the two options put forward by her school – becoming a Doctor or a Maths Teacher.
Penny was sponsored by Jaguar and did a Graduate Apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer with an honours degree from Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University). In the final year of her degree, she was the first woman to win the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Prize award, given after a day of competition by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). She then worked through a number of departments during her initial professional development, ending up as Program Manager with responsibility for the development of a complete new vehicle. From there she moved into the component supply sector working in design, development and project management and achieved her Chartered Engineer registration.
In 1994 she took a post at the University of Hertfordshire, leading a team to design and run a modular Masters Degree (Integrated Graduate Development Scheme) course in Automotive Engineering, which doubled its targets. Having spent 6 years in academia and significantly growing the department, she decided it was time to return to industry and took a post as Program Manager at Johnson Controls (JCI) in Chelmsford, working with car seats and interiors.
During her 9 years with JCI she held posts in design, finance, HR and operations whilst also qualifying as a Six Sigma Black Belt, latterly using her teaching and learning qualifications to run Leadership Development. In 2004 she was the first woman to be elected ‘Chairman of the Automobile Division’ of the IMechE and her Chairman’s address was dedicated to the study of comfort in car seats.
In 2010 she set up her own company to focus on personal and professional development for engineers and now runs courses, workshops and seminars for the engineering industry in a range of transferable skills such as presentation skills, technical report writing, influencing skills, management and leadership, engineering ethics etc. Alongside this she has studied coaching psychology and works with a number of clients on a one-to-one basis to help them fulfil their potential.
Outside of work Penny is an active STEM ambassador, sits as a magistrate, is a Vice-Chairman of the IMechE Professional Review Committee, leads a working group on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and is an Assistant on the Court of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. She runs a classic car (MG Midget), which she has owned since she was student, and will always think of herself as an Automotive Engineer.