International Women in Engineering Day is a global campaign to celebrate the fantastic women in engineering, and highlight the career opportunities available to girls in an exciting industry.
This year we spoke to Helen and Mandy, two colleagues from different teams at South East Water, about their engineering roles at the company.
“I love the fact my job gives you the chance to solve problems, create solutions and help manage things better.”
What does your career at South East Water involve?
Helen: I’ve always been part of our Assets team at the company. I started back in 2006 as a hydraulic modeller for what was Mid Kent Water at the time. Hydraulic modelling basically involves using a mathematical model to review our water network so we can plan the best way to supply tap water 24/7.
My role has changed over the years and I now work as Network Strategy Manager for the company.
Mandy: My job title is Environmental Performance Manager and I work as part of the company’s Environment team. Our team assess the environmental impact of South East Water’s operations, and works with the rest of the business to identify and reduce potential impacts to the environment.
My current role is very varied, and no two days the same. One day I’ll be looking at the archaeological impact of a pipeline, the next the visual impact of a new kiosk. Through my work I also get involved with areas such as finance, contracts, health and safety and I get to attend stakeholder meetings.
How long have you worked at South East Water and what did you do before?
Helen: I’ve worked at South East Water for around 14 years now. I spent the previous eleven years on a career break, and before that I worked for Thames Water and what was North Surrey Water Company. During the latter part of my life at Thames I was a part time consultant with my own company.
Mandy: I’ve been with the company for six years. I worked as an ecological consultant for nearly ten years before joining South East Water. Prior to that my jobs included a brief spell as a laboratory technician in a school, and I also worked in a rainforest as a mammal scientist!
How did you get into you career?
Helen: I was fascinated by irrigation and hydroelectric schemes in my geography lessons at school. I attended an all-girls school and was lucky to have a very supportive Headmistress who actively encouraged me to study engineering at university.
Mandy: While education is important, it was volunteering and reputation that paved the way to my current career. The experience and contacts I built up from volunteering with a wildlife trust led to my first ecological job. I took all the opportunities offered and learnt from those around me. I also have a degree in Ecology, which stood me in good stead and gave me great transferable skills.
Why would you recommend your career to other women?
Helen: I feel a real sense of achievement from my career. You get to see how what you’ve done benefits customers. I also love the fact my job gives you the chance to solve problems, create solutions and help manage things better. In my previous roles I’ve worked closely with engineering and helped to create long lasting infrastructure to improve the overall effectiveness of water companies – including a pumping station that is still running today.
Mandy: I love my job. It’s an interesting, worthwhile and fulfilling role for anyone who’s interested in making a real difference to our environment.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Helen: My favourite part of my job at South East Water has to be the fact that I get to be part of a great team that helps provide a vital service to the community.
Mandy: I think my favourite part is knowing that my work ensures we minimise our environmental impact as a company, while providing clean drinking water to our customers. I also get to work with a fantastic team!
“I think my favourite part of my job is knowing that my work ensures we minimise our environmental impact as a company, while providing clean drinking water to our customers.”