I began my career in Engineering at the age of 18 and I applied for numerous apprenticeships but my GCSE maths results were holding me back. However, I was shortlisted for the last round of interviews for a company called KNAPP UK. In the interview my maths results were discussed and I was offered an Apprenticeship based on an agreement to attend extra maths lessons to help bring me up to the required level. With the help and support of my apprenticeship mentor and KNAPP management at the resident British Gas warehouse in Leicester, I successfully completed my 4 year apprenticeship at the age of 21.
I then decided to push myself forward for an internal transfer to work as a Multi-skilled Maintenance Engineer at another KNAPP resident site, Staples in Corby. This role helped build my knowledge of automation; as this warehouse had only been ‘live’ for 1 year. Everything was new and more advanced than the equipment I was used to working on previously and I really enjoyed the challenges and working within a small team. This team happily shared their knowledge and helped me develop more skills which helped build my confidence further.
After another 2 years, I decided to apply for another internal transfer aged 24, a role based at KNAPP UK Head Office, as a Systems Design Engineer. I was successful and began starting my new career path in design in January 2018 and with the help of my new colleagues and management I am settling into the office environment. I am finding the design aspect very interesting as I have a limited amount of experience in this field, so it is a complete career change for me, but I am enjoying the challenges.
I intend to keep working my way through to senior management, hopefully within KNAPP UK as it’s the only company I have worked for full time since leaving school, and I would like set an example of working from an apprenticeship level, on the shop floor, up to senior management.
I have enjoyed my 6 year career with KNAPP UK so far; I have had the pleasure of working alongside knowledgeable and friendly Engineers from all backgrounds and skill bases, which has enabled me to use and expand my skills.
It is important for women to venture into engineering because the industry needs more women; for example I was the only female throughout my 4 year college course and I was (for a short amount of time) the only female Maintenance Engineer with Knapp UK. Engineering isn’t always about ‘getting your hands dirty’, it’s using your mind, thinking outside the box, improvising and working within a team that eventually become your family, working on robots and learning the technology that supplies online orders to us all as customers. At the end of a working day, you leave the workplace with a feeling of reward and accomplishment for keeping ‘the wheels of that warehouse turning’, making sure each and every customer receives their orders on time and in good condition, which is really satisfying.
The best advice I can give to a lady interested in a career path in Engineering, is to give it a go. Yes you will be working in a male dominated world, but trust me there is no better way to develop your confidence than by meeting new people. Don’t be scared of thinking what you can do or don’t know, as you will never know everything, no one ever does, I am a firm believer in, ‘every day is a school day’ and it certainly is! Sometimes you will get days when you struggle, but those days are balanced out with the days when you feel self-rewarded and walk away feeling ‘you’ve saved the day’.
Women are just as capable as men in any job role and across any field and I know that, as I am the proof!