Abbe Raeburn

I am a Dual Fuel Engineer at SMS Plc.

I am involved in installing and commissioning gas and electric meters. Risk assessments and safety checks of gas appliances and I’m on call for emergency off supply customers. “When I was at school, teachers promoted the notion of going to University. This was ‘the way forward’ if you were to get anywhere in life….
So I went, with a vague plan of becoming a PE / English teacher. Even though I was petrified of speaking in front of large groups.. got the degree… and left University with no real enthusiasm for being a teacher. And so I never followed up with the PGCE. I’ve always worked, jobs ranging from admin officer to Teaching Assistant to Prisoner custody officer… but never really happy in my work, met some great friends but the actual jobs just didn’t make me feel fulfilled.
I suppose I’ve never been what you would call a ‘girly-girl’ I have two brothers and I can’t really explain, but I just enjoy doing hands on stuff? I don’t mind getting muddy and cold or cobwebs in my hair. Not even too bothered about spiders these days… you can’t be in this job haha! I wanted a job where I had to actually think about what I was doing, but also a physical job. I get to meet different customers at each job, see a fair bit of the north east driving between jobs and after six years, still learning ‘tricks of the trade’. You are busy from start to finish so there is no time to be bored and before you know it, it’s Friday!
Almost every door I knock on, the response is along the lines of “I’m not being sexist but….. I never expected a woman to turn up…good for you” You do get used to it and I’m not offended at all infact I feel quite proud of myself for ‘going against the grain’ and going for a career that I really enjoy.
My proudest moment so far was my first day out ‘live’ on my own after completing all my training and shadowing

" alt="">
  • What does a typical day at work look like for you?

    Busy non-stop from half 7 to half five, which is good as the day flies. Go to four or five customers houses and exchange their traditional gas and electric meters for smart. Each job requires risk assessment and safety checks.
    If on call, I start at 0930 often out until around midnight, full day of smart meter exchanges and then start with the emergency jobs. This entails attending customers properties where the gas or electric is off supply and getting them back on.

  • What advice would you give to your 15 year old self

    Get yourself an apprenticeship!

  • Who or what inspired you to get into engineering?
  • What are your favourite hobbies, or interests?

    Swimming. Sketching/Painting. Gym. Music Festivals. Taxi-driver for my son….

  • What are the best and worst things about the job?

    Best – Not stuck in the same place day in day out, the satisfaction of leaving an installation neater/safer than when you got there. Happy customers when you get them back on supply.
    Worst – The weather can be a day spoiler

  • Where do you see your industry in 25-50 years' time?
  • Have you had any career setbacks or challenges you have had to overcome?