Linsey's Story: Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2020
The second interview in our series to celebrate #INWED2020 shines the spotlight on Linsey, Project & Development Engineer for Wootton and Wootton.
A big thank you to Linsey for sharing such a fascinating journey to her current role in a smaller size business, with such a wide remit. Fantastic words of advice and also shows how important female mentors and role models are for inspiring and guiding future female generations “We can do anything a man can do…”
What is your current job role?
I am officially a Project & Development Engineer for Wootton and Wootton however, as we are a small family company, I basically do a bit of everything. My main focus is HV testing (we are the only company testing with our equipment in Europe) and I carry out all of those jobs.
In addition I do a lot of the tendering and project development work, work with the MD on client relationships (particularly where we have ongoing frameworks or contracts), am very involved in the HSEQ systems (not my favourite but must be done) and do anything that is needed. When we have a lot of work in the diary I am also on site as additional resource working as a jointers mate, cable pulling or supervising civil works in substations.
How did you get into your field of work? Did you follow a specific study path / apprenticeship route / training scheme? Or maybe it wasn’t planned?
It was completely by accident – I dropped out of an English degree, worked as a cinema manager then restaurant manager for a number of years before realising hospitality wasn’t for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d take to office work as I’d never done it before so did some temping work following which I landed an interview for Morgan Est (now Morgan Sindall) as an administrator. I went into the interview and walked out of it having been interviewed for a project management role (it took a strange turn in the interview!). I was interviewed by 2 women, one of which has been my mentor since then and still an incredibly close friend now (She has been in the electricity industry since 1986 and still is now working for Northern Powergrid!).
I went on to find a career that I love and despite job changes, company changes and an increase in voltage, have found an industry that I wish I’d found earlier! I have done both an ONC and HNC in Electrical Engineering alongside work, but the best training is that which I learn whilst at work.
How long has this training taken?
The ONC and HNC were 2 years each on day release plus I have done lots of other courses, for example Power Systems engineering with EA Technology.
What or who inspired you to want to work in engineering?
I can't say I really had any inspiration before I got into engineering, however, I was brought up with a Land Rover oil running through my veins and was often out helping dad with the latest project so perhaps there was something there… Once I got into the role, Sharon played a huge part as there was never any barriers put in my way or ceilings that I had to break through, I was very to land myself a number of very supportive bosses (all male after Sharon) who let me push myself in whatever role I was doing and training was rarely off the table.
Tell me about the most exciting parts of your role?
Working for a small company rather than a large contractor, it is really exciting to see something through from beginning to end. For example, our test equipment; I was very close to my now boss prior to working for him and I think I may have been a little bit instrumental in the significant investment of the HVA200. I have been there from the training in Austria, to the first ever test, to the first ever breakdown ☹, to our 50th test and onwards. Also, I feel the same about some of the big projects and frameworks that we tender, when I used to be in a big contracting machine, you’d often not get anything out of the hours and hours of work that gets put in…now, I experience the benefit first hand!
In the 4 years I’ve been at Wootton & Wootton I have also been very lucky to go and be a 132kV jointers mate in Sri Lanka on a cable fault for the electricity board and also be flown out by helicopter to the Isles of Scilly to help with the testing of WPD’s longest 33kV cable circuit which is the sub sea link to the mainland.
Any thoughts on how to encourage more women into the Engineering Sector?
I’m not sure what it’s like in schools now, particularly secondary, but it was never really sold to us an option. I was brought up in rural Devon which probably didn’t help but I was so short sighted as the career possibilities out in the big wide world. When I was at school it was just about, do your GCSES, get your A-Levels, go to Uni…with no real end game ever persuaded out of you. Engineering is such a huge sector, I’m not sure how else to encourage women into it.
However, I have to say, the adverts I have seen over recent years, in the cinema and on TV from the RAF and other big players have been amazing and I wish I had seen them when I was late teens as I think they would have been an inspiration to me.
Best piece of advice for young women / girls who would like to explore engineering as a career opportunity?
If anyone tells you it’s a mans world…..It is….but do you know what, it doesn’t matter. Using being a woman to your advantage; it makes you more memorable. We can do anything a man can do, and I still like the surprise on peoples faces when I’m onsite or cracking on with the same as everyone else. Sometimes, you have to shout a bit louder to be heard or prove yourself a little bit more than the person next to you, but that’s not a bad thing…it’s a challenge!