June 23 is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED).
Launched in 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society, this growing campaign is an opportunity to celebrate and champion women in engineering roles. With research from June 2021 showing that just 16.5% of engineers are women, it also aims to promote inclusivity and create new opportunities.
To mark INWED, we asked Servicing and Spares Coordinator, Lisa, and Accounts Assistant, Shana, to share their industry experiences.
Lisa Reilly, Servicing and Spares Coordinator:
What was your route into the engineering industry, Lisa?
When I left school, I went to college and started a BTECH Diploma in Mechanical and Production Engineering. My dad is an engineer, and as a child I always had my head in an engine with him, asking how things worked and what went where.
I applied for two apprenticeships, and also signed up to join the RAF. I told myself that whatever came through first would be the route I chose, and it was the RAF.
So I left college to join the forces as a Mechanical Transport Driver. I drove everything from Metro vans to big tankers for refueling aircraft. We had to do general maintenance on our vehicles – simple things like oil checks.
My grandad always talked about his time in the forces. He wanted a member of his family to join up and make him proud. At my passing out ceremony, I felt as though he was there with me.
I was in the RAF for 5 years, before getting married and having my children. Leaving was a very difficult decision. It’s a different way of life, and I went to amazing places. They were some of my happiest years.
After leaving the RAF, I moved from Northern Ireland and looked for a new job. I wanted to find something that would work around family life. I moved into the service side of things in the engineering industry, coordinating services and managing engineers.
What roles have you had in the engineering industry?
My first proper service coordinator job was for a manufacturer of compressors. I was dealing with breakdowns and site visits and asked to do the same course as the engineers, so that I’d have an understanding of the equipment. I actually gained a certification in compressed air technology.
From there, I moved into a new role, managing five engineers in the East Midlands region.
I joined Karmelle in 2022. My role here involves coordinating service visits from Karmelle engineers, and arranging deliveries of essential spare parts.
What have you learned from your time in the industry?
I’ve certainly picked up lots of skills, and I like to gain an understanding of the technology I’m working with. In the past, I’ve asked my colleagues to show me equipment and explain how it works. It’s helpful to be shown; I need to visualise things, rather than just talking about them! I can then feel confident that I’m selecting the right parts and suggesting the best solutions.
When I work with engineers, I find out what their specific skillsets are. One engineer might be great with labellers; another might specialise in filling technology. Then, when requests for technical support come in, I know who to send.
The industry has certainly changed since I began my career, largely down to advances in technology. Years ago, technical drawings would be sketched out on scraps of paper; today, they’re created with CAD software.
Rashana Chaukria, Accounts Assistant:
Have you always worked in the engineering industry, Rashana?
No. I started out in hospitality and retail, before taking on an accounts role in the travel industry. From there, I joined Karmelle, which was my first experience of an engineering environment.
I do everything from managing payroll and liaising with suppliers and customers, to ordering materials. It’s really varied.
Did you find it easy to adjust to a new industry?
I’ve learned a lot during my time at Karmelle. It’s amazing to watch raw materials become state-of-the-art machinery down in the workshop. I’m involved in every stage of a project, and that’s given me a real insight into how the industry works.
I also think it’s great that Karmelle builds bespoke equipment, tailored to customers’ needs. It’s definitely not ‘one size fits all’.
Do you enjoy working with engineers?
It’s a fun and fast-paced working environment, and I love chatting to our engineers (especially about cars!)
A big part of the job is also building a rapport with customers and suppliers, which I enjoy. Forging strong working relationships is important in this industry.
Interested in joining the Karmelle team? See our latest opportunities here.