Being the “wrong sex” to become either an Astronaut or a Fighter Pilot, Sharon was considering being a Geographer or an Engineer, when one of her classmates said that she was going to do Technical Drawing at the local boys’ school as she wanted to be an Engineer. At the age of 16, this seemed both rebellious and a really good way to meet boys. So three times a week, she cycled across town to learn how to draw ellipses and loci, and what the male of the species looked like!
Due to a poorly timed bout of glandular fever, her ‘A’ Level results were pretty disastrous so all the courses she had carefully looked up and University visits that she had made came to nothing and she went through clearing and the Course Vacancy Advertisements in the newspaper. Luckily, she found a brand new course called “Manufacturing Systems Engineering” being run for the first time by Bristol Polytechnic and off she went! The course was a thick sandwich course which was enjoyable, financially rewarding and gave her some real work experience to put on her CV, getting her into some rather weird places including a nuclear power station and a missile testing facility.
After graduation, she embarked upon a career that was interesting but appeared to have a negative influence on each of the industries that employed her. First call was Ship Building and Ship Repair, followed by Printing, Heavy Engineering and the Car Industry. From these experiences, Sharon learned to identify very quickly the tell-tale signs of an industry in trouble and the necessary survival mechanisms (make sure you leave while there are still enough people to attend your leaving party). On the plus side, she supervised the production of many glossy magazines and oddly the telephone directory, went around a test track at about 180mph in an Aston Martin, almost got stuck on the roof of a factory and used to have an office with a chocolate pipeline running through it …
For the last 11 years or so, Sharon has worked in the field of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), concentrating on Road Tolling, Congestion Charging and other ways of getting drivers to pay their fair share for using the road network. Initially, Sharon worked in Austria for Kapsch TrafficCom but returned to the UK in 2006 to establish the UK subsidiary.Within the UK, Sharon is active in the wider ITS Industry, including lobbying Politicians to encourage them to invest in suitable Road User Charging Schemes. She is the current Chairman of ITS UK and a Member of the IET’s Transport Policy Panel. Sharon also has a keen interest in promoting Engineering in general and ITS in particular as an attractive career choice for girls and women, setting up the Women in ITS Interest Group a few years ago and as a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Leadership Group.
Over time, Sharon gained an MBA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Research from Durham University. She is also a Fellow of the IET and, of course, WES. She is also a lone parent to a 16 year old girl and 7 year old boy. For pleasure, she enjoys good food and wine and the odd spot of gardening!