What is your current Job Title or Role?
Production Controller - Fleet Time Submarines
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Be curious – ask lots of questions and take every opportunity to try out your interests and understand the possibilities. Give your best in everything you do – you will have no regrets. Don’t be afraid of failing – things go wrong for everyone at some point. If you have done your best, you will find that other opportunities present themselves. Embrace your passions – if you “get nerdy” about things that your friends or family find boring, don’t worry, there are other people out there with the same interests and the more you explore your interests the more opportunities you will find.
How did you get to where you are today?
I joined the Royal Navy through the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme when I was 17. I finished my A-Levels at school and after just missing the grades I needed, I went to Aston University through clearing. I studied Mechanical Engineering and really enjoyed the course, the uni and the city which surprised me as I had not wanted to study in Birmingham. While there I also trained with the Royal Navy. I got a First Class Masters in Mechanical Engineering and planned to be a Marine Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy. I worked with the Navy for a year, training officer cadets. Unfortunately, due to an injury from playing rugby, I was medically discharged just before my commissioning course was due to start. It was in August so I had no time to apply for any graduate scheme or additional university courses for that year as the deadlines had all passed. I took a part time job and applied to various graduate schemes and I was offered a place on a Graduate Scheme in Plymouth. Before I started, I took the opportunity to travel as I had not had a gap year and travelled around Europe, attempting to learn German while enjoying the cities and sights. Since joining the scheme I completed two years of placements which I geared towards where I wanted to work for my full time role. I learned as much as I could during that time and found out about all the departments that I would be working with. I have started training to dock vessels in the last year which is really exciting.
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
My daily job is the management of mechanical fitters and planning of the work. They either fix mechanical items or systems that are broken, replace them with new or fit entirely new things. My day usually consists of planning the materials that we need to do the work, ensuring that the team are trained and safe and updating the project schedule as we complete work or encounter problems. I try to get on board the vessel every day to check that the work areas are safe and keep an eye on the work being done. I might have to climb into tanks or other confined spaces depending on the work we are doing. We often face challenges such as equipment that is no longer manufactured or programme pressure and I have to come up with innovative solutions to these problems. To do that, I have to use a mix of my engineering knowledge from university and experience from my time in the company. If I’m doing a docking, it’s a long day. I’ll be out on the dockside with people from lots of different teams making sure that the vessel is safe and stable. Sometimes I get to do outreach activities with local school children when I get to tell them about engineering. I really enjoy these days as they remind me how interesting my job is. I am also encouraged to learn and develop myself so I usually have training at least once or twice a month and I am just starting to give training to other people as well.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
I was inspired to get into STEM by my Resistant Materials teacher, Mr Edwards, who suggested I attend a Smallpeice Course run by the Royal Navy and RAF after I expressed an interest in becoming a bomb technician (I was rebelling). I went on the course and we built a launch pad for a model plane on an aircraft carrier. From that day I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be an engineer in the Royal Navy and applied to join within 6 months. I’d always enjoyed water based activities, working out how things worked and subjects like maths and science so it was a natural step for me.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I most enjoy working with lots of different people in different departments on a common goal. It’s not always easy and we do have conflicts sometimes. Usually though, we all work together to get the vessel ready and safe to go to sea. When we do have challenges, it’s the multi-disciplined teams of people with varied experience that are able to find better solutions, quicker.
What do you like to do outside work?
I’ve always been a busy person and so I enjoy volunteering and outdoor activities. I have volunteered as Chair of the Devon and Cornwall Area Committee of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for 2 years and plan to carry on supporting the committee. We support local engineers and promote engineering through lectures, site visits and professional development and social events. I also sit on the Women in STEM Plymouth Committee as an advisory member to help our work with the IMechE and the work of WISP to reach more people and be more complementary. I also volunteer as a rugby coach for girls from age 11-17 at Tavistock Rugby Club. I really enjoy seeing them develop and progress as players and people with rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship. During Spring and Summer, I compete in a cruiser yacht competition with weekly races after work. I find sailing a really easy way to relax. Even though I’m busy on the boat, my mind has to focus on what I’m doing and what the wind and water are doing so I can’t worry about anything else. In between all those things, I enjoy baking and gardening at home and spending time with my family and my boyfriend. We like to go for walks, visit stately homes and gardens, enjoy tasty food and go to the theatre and cinema. Sometimes though I do like to spend my evening lying on the sofa and watching TV!