INTERNATIONAL WOMEN IN ENGINEERING DAY 2021 – ‘EVERYDAY HEROES’ Part One
We are a specialist engineering, supply chain and technical sales recruitment agency and the team here at White Label is truly dedicated to these industries. Supporting our clients and understanding their sectors inside out is an integral part of what we do.
Naturally, this includes supporting the annual International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). This year, the event – now in its eighth year – is being marked on 23rd June and has the theme of ‘Engineering Heroes’. The past 12 months have shown how crucial engineers are as they have played major roles in helping societies around the world manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of this year’s INWED is to highlight how female engineers help to ‘deliver and maintain critical services and infrastructure, keep civic society functioning at every level, and support lives and livelihoods’. They are doing this by profiling ‘the best, brightest and bravest women in engineering’ so we thought we would join the cause and help them!
Sophie Grincourt is a Quality Control Manager at one of our esteemed clients, CarnaudMetalbox Engineering (CMB Engineering). She’s a truly inspirational person and we are delighted to be able to showcase her journey and her ‘everyday heroics’.
CMB Engineering designs, develops and manufactures high-performance metal forming and finishing machinery for the production of beverage, food and aerosol cans.
What made you first interested in a career in engineering?
As a child, I was very interested in maths and sciences at school and was always curious about how things worked. When I had to choose what to do at university, I thought that maths would be too abstract, therefore Engineering was a good option to cover how various fields of sciences (from mechanical engineering to electrical or fluid mechanics) applied to the ‘real’ world.
Also, in France, where I’m originally from, we have a system called “Grandes Ecoles” which covers both Engineering and Business Schools, outside of university, where you can really find the field you are interested in. In my case, I went to the Engineering School which specialises in Wood Sciences (ESB), which was a great opportunity to not only learn about engineering, but also to get a better knowledge about sustainability and the environment.
Can you give us a brief overview of your career so far?
At the end of my master’s in engineering, I started with a 6-month internship with Airbus where I joined the quality department. After this contract, I was looking to join another big company but abroad this time, so I found a VIE contract (foreign contracts up to 2 years for graduates) with Crown Packaging, in Wantage (Oxfordshire). I was fortunate to be given many opportunities there and I met a lot of people, led several projects and visited lots of different countries. The end of my 2-year contract coincided with the launch of Crown’s Forward Programme – a 3-year contract where you spend 3 years in 3 different countries within 3 different business areas to learn as much as possible and to prepare you for managing positions.
This was fantastic and I spent time in Poland, Germany and France. This experience gave me enough knowledge (and the confidence) to then apply to my current role, which is Quality Control Manager for CarnaudMetalBox Engineering (the machinery business within Crown Packaging) in Shipley (West Yorkshire) where I’m in charge of a team which inspects parts and machines.
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far?
Being entrusted to lead a team of 26 people when I was only 27 is something I’m quite proud of, especially in such as industrial field. I guess that’s the advantage of being part of a company for so long as they get to know you, can see what you’ve achieved and know what you are capable of.
How do you feel about the idea of being a role model to younger females in your industry?
I never had any female role models when I started to be interested in Engineering, so if I can help younger females see what is possible then I’m more than happy to help! I guess what is important to keep in mind is that it only needs one person to lead the change into having more women in industry, and it can be anyone!
Do you think it’s important for the future of the industry to encourage girls in STEM subjects in school?
It looks like the proportion of boys and girls is quite balanced within STEM in secondary schools these days, so if girls are interested in STEM, then yes, they should make sure this interest is nurtured. The more girls go into industry now, the more representation there will be for future generations.
Is there a female colleague who has particularly inspired you in your career and how has she done this?
Interestingly, the only time I had female colleagues within my team or within my hierarchy was during my internship in Airbus where both my manager and the head of the department were female. As it was my first ‘real’ job, it showed me that women can be in charge in an industrial field and make an impact. And as it was my first experience, it just made it normal for me. Now I find myself surprised when I’m in a team or in a meeting where I am the only female.
How has your company supported you in your career as a female in the engineering sector?
By giving me the same opportunities as anyone else. I would never ask for any advantages because I’m a woman, and I believe this is the case for most people; everyone just wants to be treated the same.
Why do you think it is important to champion the efforts of women in the engineering field?
Currently, when a woman does something remarkable, the news is often still highlighting the fact that she is a woman “A woman becomes CEO of…” instead of making similar headlines to the ones for men, therefore implying that it is unusual, which doesn’t help with changing people’s mindsets. We need to normalise the fact that women can achieve the same as men, whatever it is.
Has the engineering sector changed in its attitude towards women over the course of your career?
I don’t think it has changed, but I think companies are trying to advertise more towards women and to emphasise that women do have a place in the industry.
How do you think the engineering industry can further adapt and improve to embrace female engineers?
I think industries need to be more present in secondary schools, to showcase job possibilities and to provide examples of women and men, equally, with what their jobs look like so students can make informed decisions on which path to follow.
What do you think the future holds for engineering and the women who work in the sector?
Hopefully we will start to see more and more women applying for jobs and studying for engineering degrees or qualifications. At the moment, the problem isn’t that women don’t get the jobs, but companies don’t receive enough female CVs in engineering fields. I see it on a daily basis, I must have received 60 CVs since I started my job, for various roles, and only 1 of them was from a woman. This makes it hard for companies to recruit women in the first place, so I think the problem needs to be tackled much earlier on in the education pathway.
We hope you come away from this blog feeling inspired, if you are seeking a new role or would like to discuss your career options, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today!
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