International Women in Engineering Day 2021

This year International ‘Women in Engineering Day’ falls on the 23rd of June 2021.

This year we’ll be celebrating the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing, and not just to respond to the pandemic but also to support lives and livelihoods every day. So, this year we decided to speak to some of our ‘Engineering Heroes’ within Apollo!

How did you get into engineering/ working for an engineering company?

Kirstie: I grew up in Aberdeen and my dad was always involved in the Oil and Gas industry but doing school work experience within BP’s environmental engineering department really made me think ‘I want to work in that world!’

Chloe: Like Kirstie, I grew up in Fraserburgh and my dad was into Oil and Gas as well, but I didn’t plan on going into Oil and Gas or Engineering. Banff and Buchan college was well known for its engineering so I thought I would try that as it seemed to be a recognised subject but ended up really liking it.

Roisean: I filled in for Apollo’s Admin Assistant for two weeks during one of my University holidays and fell in love with the company, as soon as I graduated I emailed them asking if they would be keen to take on a Business Development Graduate and it all fell together really.

Do you always feel equal and included? Are there things that can improve?

Chloe: At university, I felt that way, however, I sometimes feel left out of the ‘boys chat’ that goes on within the engineering world.

Kirstie: It is male-dominated and there is room for improvement but there are hopeful signs that diversity and inclusion is an improving picture in the Energy Business.

For example, in 2019 I was 8 months pregnant with my third child and a week away from going on maternity leave when Apollo’s Managing Director approached me to discuss a new role in the business. Apollo felt that I would excel in a promoted position as Business Unit Manager and decided to put the role on ice until I returned from maternity leave. I think it’s highly unusual for a business to be thinking about how I would feel coming back and giving me something really exciting to return to and look forward to. It was more important to promote the right person to the right role. So often you hear of women at companies within the Energy business choosing a family or a career and I feel lucky at Apollo to have both.

What do you love about Engineering/ working for an engineering company?

Kirstie: There’s never a dull moment! There are always new challenges and different ways to figure things out!

Chloe: Especially with Apollo every project you get is totally different!

Stephannie: I love how welcome I feel. I have worked places before, and you can sometimes get lost a wee bit and at Apollo, I feel you are treated as an employee. I have only been here three months and I already feel included.

What advice would you give to someone considering going into engineering or working for an engineering company?

Kirstie: You have to get behind yourself and find good sponsors and mentors and push yourself on because women in engineering can have a wonderful career and there’s a lot of research to suggest that female traits are so advantageous in the engineering space because there’s a massive void of them. The contribution you have to make as a female engineer is massive so don’t underestimate it. Get involved in as many things as possible as there will be things being missed that your male colleagues won’t be able to see. Balanced teams create the most successful workforces.

What more can be done for female engineers/ women in engineering?

Kirstie: There are often assumptions made about what women want in their careers. Are conversations about career paths the same for men and women? I would like to hope and think they are. It’s important that all the opportunities are available to everyone.

Chloe: I think most women have had an experience of casual sexism, I guess you get that in most industries.

Stephannie: It’s often the assumption that you are in an admin or support role or the silly comments that you learn to brush off that could be called out.

Chloe: It needs to change at industry leader level, if they don’t change it will remain constant. I often feel I am trying harder than my colleagues to prove that I deserve to be here.

This year’s theme is Engineering Heroes, are there women in the industry that inspire you?

Kirstie: Dawn Robertson is someone I admire greatly. She is a Global Sales Director for Bureau Veritas and also Chair of the Decommissioning Leadership Group at Decom North Sea. She is a fellow working mother who truly gives us all something to aspire to in our careers in Energy. Julie Burton is another personal inspiration for me. She is my client in her role as Lead Structural Engineer / Decom TA0 at EnQuest and again, I find it really refreshing and energising to see her excelling in a senior engineering role within a massively male-dominated technical space. And finally, Colette Cohen is a huge inspiration. I love how passionate she is about D&I and the future of our industry.

Chloe: I would say Rosa, our Principal Engineer, because that’s who I can see myself becoming, it’s nice having everyone at Apollo to look up to.

Stephannie: I think all women in engineering are amazing and inspiring!

Is there anything else you believe is important to mention in relation to IWIED?

Chloe: At school, engineering was never presented to me as an option to pick, even my career counsellor didn’t push me towards STEM subjects which is obviously where my talents lay. I think also making much clearer what engineering is, it isn’t fixing cars or boilers, my role is very desk-based. It’s so varied and there’s so many options within engineering.

Laura: There were career fares at school, initially I wanted to be an architect as I was very good at GraphCom but didn’t want to spend that length of time at university, I was never put forward for Engineering instead they pushed me forward for primary teaching when it was clear my talents lay in STEM subjects.

Kirstie: For me, attracting great women into the Energy industry needs to continue to be a key goal – but, perhaps even more critical is what happens after you attract them! Ensuring all members of the team are afforded opportunities that keep them curious, motivated and engaged is so important to all our futures in the energy business.

We also caught up with our Operations Director, Richard Bell who said:

The number of women working in engineering has grown consistently over the last decade. Engineering and the energy industry is a great career and it is up to companies like Apollo to make sure we make that message clear.

It is great to hear from the team about role models internally and externally that are helping shape industry, build confidence and continue to add value to Apollo as well as the wider industry.

The last 18 months has forced a change in how the world works and with increased flexibility, becoming an engineer should be even more attractive to the next generation of women interested in STEM.

“There were a couple of answers in here that surprised us, however, we wanted to use this as an opportunity to show that even the most progressive companies can have small blind spots. It is our duty to listen to our staff and make sure that everyone operates on a level playing field so they can develop, grow and continue to change the industry for the better.”