In order to celebrate International Women In Engineering Day, earlier this year, I reached out to a number of female engineers across the UK & Ireland, asking them to share their stories, and the highly rewarding career path they had chosen.
Hear the thoughts of Helen Arch, Field Services Engineer at Schneider Electric, about what it's like to be a female in the world of engineering, what it's like to work at Schneider Electric and how Schneider has contributed to her journey.
Siobhan Kelly-Bush: Helen, please tell us what is it like to work at Schneider Electric?
Helen Arch: Primarily my role is to service and maintain all assets under management of a BMS for our customers. I must ensure it is operating to an optimum standard to create maximum comfort to the user whilst reducing energy costs within a building. As a field service engineer in Digital Energy every day is exciting and varying. With opportunities to work across multiple sites within the northwest, there is always opportunity to learn something new every day.
SKB: When and why did you decide to become an engineer?
HA: There was no lightbulb moment for me when I decided I wanted to become an engineer. I began exploring career options aged 16 and found roles in engineering best suited to my love of physics, math's and design in high school. I then began a multi-skilled engineering apprenticeship that year and have never looked back!
SKB: Why Schneider Electric?
HA: I always knew I wanted to work for a global company, Schneider Electric for me has the best blend of size whilst still valuing its employees and allowing the freedom to innovate. My own ethics aligns greatly with the sustainability goals of the company, working towards a more sustainable future.
'My own ethics aligns greatly with the sustainability goals of Schneider Electric, working towards a more sustainable future.'
SKB: How has Schneider Electric supported your career?
HA: As a relatively new employee of the company, Schneider Electric has provided me with training courses and on-site learning needed to ensure I have all the tools required for me to fulfil my job role.
SKB: What has been your career path up to today?
HA: I embarked on a 4-year advanced apprenticeship in engineering working in a local biscuit factory aged 16. I then moved to an alcohol bottling plant as an electrical maintenance engineer for two years. With my engineering skills and experience I moved into the automotive industry working for a tier1 automotive supplier, manufacturing fuel tanks for cars. During this period, I began my part-time studies gaining a degree in Industrial Electronics and Control at John Moores University Liverpool. I took an opportunity to move to a newly opened automated robotic warehouse working for Amazon as a senior reliability and maintenance engineer. I wanted to broaden my experience even further and learn new skills, which has landed me where I am today working in Digital Energy for Schneider Electric.
SKB: How has the flexibility across Schneider enabled you to explore a range of career choices and opportunities across different areas?
HA: As a relatively new employee to the company I have not had much exposure to varying opportunities yet. However, Schneider Electric have been very supportive in allowing me to complete my Master's studies in Engineering Management.
SKB: What has been your most rewarding experience as an engineer?
HA: Having the opportunity to work alongside engineers from many nations and backgrounds can bring its challenges and obstacles, working towards a common goal and seeing a project realised at the end is one of the most rewarding moments.
SKB: What has been your most challenging experience as an engineer?
HA: With an ever-evolving world and advancements of technology, there are always new products, techniques and processes to learn and integrate within engineering. Although challenging, I love the fast-paced nature, I find it stimulating and stops engineering from becoming mundane.
'Although challenging, I love the fast-paced nature, I find it stimulating. Engineering never becomes mundane.'
SKB: What advice do you have for females interested in becoming an engineer?
HA: Never doubt yourself, know that we are all equal and if you are ever unsure - just ask! Find something you really have a passion for in engineering and you will never get bored. Most importantly be confident and be you!
SKB: Who has been your greatest support, coach, mentor across Schneider Electric and why?
HA: My greatest support across Schneider Electric has been my line manager Peter Gambles. He is always only a phone call away if I have any issues, nothing is too much trouble. He has been so supportive in ensuring I can grow and develop within the company.
Thank you to Helen for sharing her insights on what it's like to be a female in the world of engineering, and Schneider Electric.