Launched in 2014 by the Women’s Engineering Society, International Women in Engineering Day is a global awareness campaign to raise the profile of women working in engineering and to focus on the fantastic career opportunities available for females in the engineering sector.
To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we sat down with some of the female members of our fantastic customer sales and support team, Katie Burke, Leanne Taylor, Jessica Brown, Maria Emery and team leaders Tracey Lancaster (Customer Sales & Support) and Katie Degg (Finance Team Leader) to have a quick chat about what it is like to work at SSC and in the engineering sector.
How long have you been working at SSC?
Katie: Three months
Jessica: Just over a month
Leanne: 1 year 8 months
Tracey: 2 years 3 months
Maria: 2 ½ months
Kathryn: Under 1 month
What does the average day look like for you?
Katie: My average day involves communicating with customers and quoting for parts they need us to cut. I must also ensure that I understand precisely what the customer needs to ensure I am offering the best service to give the correct price for their components or parts. Part of my role is also following the progress of any order I have processed to ensure it is on track and runs smoothly.
Jessica: Organisation is essential for my days. I need to ensure that all quotations and orders are processed and ensure that all tasks are prioritised accordingly. I will follow up recent quotes and orders with customers to ensure we have quoted for their exact needs and if we need to alter the quote further in order to meet their needs.
Leanne: Working with customers to get prices for the parts that they require laser cutting. Reading technical drawings and using a mix of email and call to receive quoting information from suppliers. Liaising with production on certain requirements such as press brake jobs and then keeping on top of customers orders via our ERP system. Communication is key in my role both internally with peers and externally with my clients.
Tracey: Part of my role includes working and motivating the sales team, usually with morning and afternoon “huddles”, this helps set targets for the team, and also allows me to sort out any issues. I will delegate incoming enquiries to members of the team and when we are really busy, will work on quotes and orders to help maximise capacity. Ensuring we are working efficiently, at pace and giving world-class service is my number one aim.
Maria: The environment at SSC is a fast-paced environment, I spent a good proportion of my time working on quotes for client’s and talking to them throughout the day.
Kathryn: My role at SSC is to ensure that deadlines are met and to delegate specific roles out to my team. Also, in my role within finance, I need to work closely with other departments and customers so communication is key.
What would you say is the biggest challenge working in the engineering sector?
Katie: The biggest challenge for me is learning the industry. As there are so many different sectors within engineering, I find I am continually learning new applications and materials which can be used and why customers want to use them. That way, I can advise customers as to new materials or laser cutting solutions that can really help them to utilise the technology that we have.
Jessica: Getting to know all the different materials and types of steel and understanding what materials are suitable for each customer requirement, every customer is different, and so are their needs. Also understanding what types of material are equivalent to other kinds of steel for when the customer asks. Being an expert in laser cutting and steel is paramount to me giving the best possible customer service.
Leanne: At previous employment, I was the only female estimator so it was often implied that I wouldn’t know what I was talking about or I wouldn’t understand certain things. This isn’t the case at SSC as there are a number of women across the various teams and we all add huge value to the business.
Tracey: When I started in the industry, there were very few women and people tended to think as you are a woman you don’t know what you are talking about. This has improved over the years and women are more accepted in the field as knowledgeable and experienced and i love to prove this. SSC are great at empowering me.
Maria: The biggest challenge has been getting to know the different materials used to fabricate different parts.
Kathryn: In my previous employment, it was dominantly females, however moving to the engineering sector it is predominantly males. There was a new culture to adjust to. This is a new industry for me to work in and there are a lot of different processes and materials to get to know.
Why did you choose to work in engineering?
Katie: As engineering is a sector which uses mathematics, it always appealed to me. I have a degree in Mathematics and really enjoy using it and any job which uses applications on a day to day basis.
Jessica: I’ve always enjoyed sales and being on the telephone. Speaking with customers is a crucial element to the sales industry. Working in the steel industry is something new to me. I am now learning more and more at a rapid rate, which makes it so much easier to communicate with customers when they are requesting a quote or placing an order.
Leanne: It was completely accidental. I wanted a job in an office as I previously was working as a manager at a Costa Coffee. A family friend worked at an engineering company in Stoke on Trent and advised I applied for the sales role even though I had no experience in the industry nor office experience. I was lucky to get the job based on this but haven’t looked back.
Tracey: I’ve always worked in the metal industry. I had worked on the resale side of the industry, not in fabrication. I needed a change and wanted to work on something new, and add my experience elsewhere, SSC fitted the bill perfectly.
Maria: It’s a fascinating sector, every day is different and there is always a new challenge.
Kathryn: Having previously worked in the Retail and Security Industry I wanted a new challenge, to gain experience and knowledge in a different sector.
Why do you think it is important that more women join the engineering sectors?
Katie: It is important for women to join the engineering sector to enable a more diverse working environment. This allows the industry to grow and expand.
Jessica: Engineering typically would be classed as a more male orientated job, but I think it is important that more women join the engineering sector as this allows women to gain more knowledge and understanding in this industry.
Leanne: A balance of men and women in any industry is always good. Women carry different traits to men which can level out a tricky atmosphere or help decision making from a different aspect.
Tracey: It’s important to get the younger generation of women coming into the sector as they are the future. If they don’t come through it will revert to being a male-dominated industry.
Maria: Engineering has always been labelled as a male-oriented sector, however, these days more women are working in various engineering sectors. It is very important that women are given the opportunity to prove that engineering is not traditionally, only for men.
Kathryn: It is important for women to join the engineering sector as it has historically been known to be a male-oriented sector. However, this has changed in recent years and it is important that this continues to ensure women can succeed in this sector.
Finally, what is the best part about working for SSC?
Katie: One of the best things for me is the team. Everyone at SSC is so friendly and willing to help. This means the day to day functions within the business run more smoothly, causing less stress.
Jessica: SSC is a very welcoming and friendly place to work, everyone is really helpful when asking questions. The best thing about working for SSC is being able to learn something completely different from what I have done previously. I have never worked in the engineering industry, and before working here, I wouldn’t have thought twice about all the different structures that are made from different types of steel, i.e. The Angel of the North being made from Corten Steel.
Leanne: The sales team and relationship we have and the relationship with have with our amazing customers.
Tracey: Every day is varied which keeps things interesting. The people at SSC are really nice and everyone gets along. We have a great team atmosphere.
Maria: Every day at SSC brings new challenges, it’s great!
Kathryn: Everyone is SSC are friendly and helpful in the workplace. Every day you learn something new, with others around to share knowledge.
SSC are delighted to have such a broad range of talented females in our teams company-wide and celebrate International Women in Engineering Day with them. If you would like to join the amazing team at SSC Laser, check out our careers page for new job opportunities.