Why did you choose engineering?
When I was at school, I enjoyed science and maths, chemistry in particular. I had the chance to take part in an engineering scheme, which ignited my passion for problem solving. Before university, I worked as an Undergraduate Process Engineer at Grangemouth Oil Refinery, which was a fast-paced environment, working with multiple teams to deadlines. From then I knew engineering was the career path for me and made sure every summer I would work a placement in engineering in sectors from oil and gas to manufacturing — even teaching! I gained my Masters in Chemical Engineering in 2016 and started working at Knauf Insulation as a Process Engineer in Process Support and Development.
What advice would you offer women considering a career in engineering?
Never stop pushing yourself and keep forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. Since day one working with Knauf Insulation, I have always thrown myself into everything I can and this has really helped me build confidence in my work and myself. I am proud that I am the only female engineer in my office. However, working in a male-dominated environment has never stopped me from achieving my goals. Finally, I would say find yourself a mentor you can talk to and who can push you. They do not have to be female — some of my best mentors were male — but I got to know plenty of strong female engineers who guided me in the right direction.
What makes Knauf Insulation special?
I’ve worked at Knauf Insulation for three years now and I’ve seen that it really values and cares for its employees, I’ve met so many people in different departments and plants across the world and no matter where you go you still feel like you’re all working in the same team. Knauf Insulation is a family owned business, and you genuinely feel part of a big family.
What has been a career highlight?
I have taken more responsibility each year I have worked in Process Support and Development and I now manage the wash water control for the Glass Mineral Wool plants - I enjoy the challenge! Currently I am busy with my team supporting our new glass mineral wool plant being built in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. It is an exciting time for Knauf Insulation and I am proud to be a part of it.
What needs to be done to encourage more women to join the construction industry?
To encourage women into the industry — and engineering disciplines in general — you need to start in schools when children are young, exposing them to different ways of thinking and allow girls to explore disciplines that might not stereotypically be of interest to them. I think there is a preconception that the construction industry is a mucky, hands-on and labour-intensive industry and there needs to be a drive to show girls this is not the case. I worked as a physics teacher on placement during my degree and held workshops with girls to encourage them into STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and it was encouraging to see how many were considering going into these disciplines. Education from a young age will help the construction industry become a more inclusive sector for everyone.