Elena van Boolen
I am a Technical Sales Engineer at the Wire Belt Company Ltd
It is my job to help customers choose and quote for the most appropriate conveyor or conveyor belt for their requirements, as well as providing technical advice and help in solving any belt breakdown or problems they may have.
Part of my role is to travel to customers sites from time to time to provide any product training required and conduct belt surveys or any fault investigation, as well as assist the customer services team and the internal sales team with any product related training.
Handling conveyor related queries, from the initial enquiry to delivery is also something I do, asking the customer correct questions to ensure our offer is suitable for their product and application, quoting the right conveyor and working with the internal design and manufacturing team to deliver the finished product to the customer.I started a Chemical Engineering degree in my home country, Romania, after finishing high school, but a combination of not enjoying chemistry and having the opportunity to go and volunteer abroad, meant that I have given up before finishing it.
I have then moved to France and volunteered and worked with adults with learning disabilities for 6 years, before moving to the UK. In the UK I have worked in a variety of customer service and sales roles, but I started to feel unfulfilled in my roles and realised engineering was what I wanted to do.
I have enrolled in a part time BEng degree with the Open University and studied alongside my full time job for 6 years. 6 months following graduation I have secured my current role.
The Open University organised a Women in Engineering students conference every year and I have attended all but 1 of the conferences. They have always been inspirational and a great way to increase my network and meet up with women like me, wanting a career change. I have enjoyed listening to the speakers and hearing their pathway and story to engineering and their roles.
I was very honoured and proud to been asked to speak to the 2021 virtual Open University students conference in the early career section. I have shared my journey and talked about my engineering role and received great feedback from the attendees. Hearing my story was inspirational to others made me want to help and encourage more women into engineering.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
The workload and type of enquiries vary from day to day, but I am mostly office based, so my typical work day would start with checking my emails for any new enquiries and liaise with my manager for any urgent issues. Thereafter I start working on providing quotations and specifying the correct products to the customers requirements. I may have meetings with the design and manufacturing teams to check and discuss conveyor orders progress. If I have an unusual belt enquiry or problem then I discuss this with my manager and the rest of my colleagues in the Technical Sales team to find the best solution for the customer.
No 2 days are the same and the workload is varied, which is what I like about my role.
What advice would you give to your 15 year old self
You can do anything you put your mind to. If you fail at first, pick yourself up and try again, but choose another way to achieve what you want.
What are your favourite hobbies, or interests?
Whilst I was studying part time alongside my full time role I had to give up all aspects of my social life or hobbies. I now try and catch up with seeing my friends and socialising, but also love reading and watching films with my husband. I love travelling and discovering new places and cultures.
What are the best and worst things about the job?
The best thing about my job is the satisfaction I have helped a customer with their belt/conveyor issues/requirements and that I’ve been able to make a difference, reducing their downtime/costs.
The worst thing about my job is the frustration when I am not able to get back to the customer as quickly as I would’ve liked to, due to delays out of my control.