In 2014, bucking industry-wide trends, Doosan Babcock attracted three times more female engineering apprentices than the national average – of the 94 apprentices hired, 9% were female, which compared to a 3% national average.
We are also proud to have talented women developing their engineering careers at various levels within the company, including:
• Selma Hunter, Director Business (Boiler and Process) and Process Director
• Barbara Jackson, Manager, Green Development Group
• Suzanne Birney, Trainee CAD Technologist
Selma Hunter – Director Business (Boiler and Process) and Process Director at Doosan Babcock
Having made a tough decision between ballet and engineering, Selma kick started her career as a woman in engineering in 1986 as a chemical engineer – something she knew she always wanted to do.
With 30 years’ experience in the industry, Selma Hunter has worked her way up through the ranks within world class engineering firms including Doosan Babcock where she is currently Director Business (Boiler and Process) and Process Director for hydrocarbons and life sciences. Prior to this, Selma held various roles within Jacobs, including Vice President, Business Development Manager and Process Engineer. In between this, Selma ventured into the start-up world, establishing her own business around a new patented product as well as working for BP and Uhde.
As a woman in a male dominated environment, Selma acknowledges that there have been challenges along the way. While these have lessened over the years, she has always known that to establish yourself as a leader, you have to be prepared to earn your stripes. Regardless of gender, everyone needs to work hard to overcome their own challenges and if your team knows you want to do that, they will give you the space to do so. She is keen that we move on from the attitude that deems women’s lives tougher than men’s.
Selma remains stunned at the lack of women in engineering and more so, the lack of progress in this area. When asked what she thinks the issue is, Selma reiterates the need to paint a new and exciting picture of engineering that inspires children to consider this as a career path. This includes addressing the unintended bias that enters the classroom from very early years, shaping girls’ perspectives about what they should and shouldn’t go on to do. Importantly, Selma highlights the need for more females in leadership positions – when you have diversity in your leadership team, there’s far more chance this will be reflected in the wider workforce. The Process Group is one example of this – half of Selma’s leadership team are women.
Selma Hunter said:
“When people ask me what has kept me in the industry for 30 years, I remind them of the bigger picture. I have always been inspired by the fact that engineering doesn’t start with a finished product; it starts from the moment something is discovered in science to how these ideas materialise and affect humanity. From this perspective, you realise how fortunate you are to be involved in such a vast range of projects. I’ve worked on a countless number of fascinating projects, including one on Vitamin C and another on an underground gas storage facility! There really is something for everyone, and I’ve never felt being a woman has held me back in anything I’ve put my mind to.
“As a leader, I am determined to understand my resource pool and put my mind to solving problems – people’s circumstances should never get in the way of their professional development. This includes moving away from an age-old culture of presenteeism – if you’re able to arrive 30 minutes earlier, it doesn’t make you 30 minutes better! For me, Women in Engineering Day serves as an important reminder that there is still such a long way to go until we achieve the equality that we need in the industry. My message to all young women considering engineering would be - go for it, keep an open mind and when you are faced with constraints, don’t sit in splendid isolation, you can cope with anything you need to one step at a time.”
Barbara Jackson – Manager, Green Development Group at Doosan Babcock
With seven years’ experience in the company, Barbara Jackson has a wide variety of experience under her belt ranging from project management, planning and site management. The industry wasn’t always a natural choice for Barbara, who kick started her career by working for Microsoft. At school, she wasn’t as driven by the sciences as her friends were and, while often tempted by the prospect, didn’t set out to carve a career for herself in the sector. However, while working for Network Rail in 2007 Barbara was intrigued by the real life examples of engineering that she was witnessing as a project planner. Being on the tracks and gaining first-hand exposure to various strands of engineering captured Barbara’s attention. It wasn’t long before an opportunity at Doosan Babcock came up and she hasn’t looked back since.
In January last year, Barbara moved from being the company’s only female site manager to be a project manager in the company’s new international services department. Barbara embraced this opportunity with open arms and relished the opportunity to transfer her project management skills to the newly created international services department.
Completely aware that she is a leader within a male-dominated environment, Barbara is well acquainted with natural challenges; however, none of these have held her back and she has always had tremendous support from her team and managers. Noting gradual progress she has witnessed over the years, Barbara is positive about the direction of travel for gender equality across the industry and is calling on more women to continue paving the way. Her fresh perspective shifts focus away from ones gender, and towards a unique approach to communicating and building relationships within her team.
Barbara Jackson said:
“When I became a Site Manager of Cockenzie Power Station I knew the guys were pretty shell-shocked! I was taking over from an extremely successful, well respected and outspoken man, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. However, not once did I feel like it held me back and I’ve never faced any resistance because I’m a woman. That is the wonderful thing about the team – when you want to do a good job of something, you’ll always be given the room to do so. And if you have a team that wants to support you, you’re 100% more likely to succeed!
“For me, it wasn’t about my gender, it was about the way I interacted with people and built open, honest relationships. My approach was to pull the team together through close engagement, create a culture of knowledge-sharing and openness, and foster honest communication.
“For girls considering a career in engineering, I would firstly remind them that engineering isn’t about gender! Keep an open mind, be confident in your abilities and make use of the opportunities that come your way. The energy and engineering sectors are constantly innovating and changing and with that, we need our workforce to be evolving too – we need to keep up. A huge part of this must be more women in the workforce, and to do that we need to tap into more young female talent. A new generation of females in the industry is needed to bring new perspectives and find solutions to dynamic challenges.”
Suzanne Birney – Trainee CAD Technologist, Doosan Babcock
Keen to get straight into the world of work, 17-year-old Suzanne Birney spotted Doosan Babcock’s Apprenticeship Scheme and decided to apply. The first of her friends to leave school, Suzanne was delighted to be accepted onto the scheme while in her Sixth Year at school and got going straight away.
In July 2012, Suzanne began her SCQF Level 6 in Design and Draughting and started working around various secondments within the drawing office. Just a month later, she had started a HND in Mechanical Engineering part-time at Glasgow Clyde College. As well as having a stable job and income, Suzanne applies some of her favourite subjects studied at school, including graphics, maths and physics. Now as a trainee CAD Technologist, Suzanne is designing, modelling and drawing the component parts used in Doosan Babcock’s work. Two years into her HND course, Suzanne was granted direct entry into her second year on a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical and Electronic Systems Engineering at Glasgow Caledonian University. Now in the second year of her degree, Suzanne hopes to graduate in 2017.
Before applying for her apprenticeship, Suzanne naturally had her doubts. As well as being the only one in her friendship group to consider this route into work, Suzanne knew that it was a heavily male-dominated industry. Still determined to explore her options, Suzanne spoke to people already at the company and asked plenty of questions – since then, she hasn’t looked back.
Suzanne Birney said:
“I’m so glad that I considered all my options while still at school. The Apprenticeship Scheme at Doosan Babcock, and all the opportunities since, have been more fulfilling and rewarding than I ever imagined they could be. I also never thought I’d be able to combine all my favourite subjects into one, while being paid to do it! My main focus will now be on completing my degree at Glasgow Caledonian University while continuing to develop in my role at Doosan Babcock.
“I’d love to see more young people take similar routes into employment, and urge anyone who is unsure about an apprenticeship to just ask all the questions they have. There is no such thing as a silly question, and if it wasn’t for all the advice I got I wouldn’t be where I am today. And to all the girls who think engineering is only for boys – it isn’t! If more girls apply for these roles then we’ll have more girls in the industry – a great way to help close the gap! Finally, I think a lot of young people assume an apprenticeship stops you from doing a traditional degree. However, on a scheme like Doosan Babcock’s you can gain experience and skills on the job while also entering into university as part of your training. You come out of it educated, highly qualified, and debt free – what more could you want!”
Suzanne’s dedication and success has been marked by an outstanding number of awards, with a total of 10 achieved in the past 12 months alone. These include:
1.Apprentice of the Year
Institute of Mechanical Engineers
Glasgow Clyde College - Anniesland Campus
3.Prince Phillip Prize
Incorporation of Hammermen
4.Whitworth Award Holder
5.Best Modern Apprentice on an Engineering Programme
Glasgow Clyde College
6.Women of the Future: Young Star
Women of Future awards
7.Level 3 Apprentice of the Year
Skills Development Scotland
8.Scotland's Modern Apprentice of the Year
Skills Development Scotland
9.SQA Special Award
SQA & Glasgow Clyde College
10.ECITB Scottish Regional Apprentice of the Year
Engineering Construction Industry Training Board