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Abigail Ferris

Apprentice Engineer in Technical Support – Centrax Litd


Describe what your job entails on a day-to-day basis?

My day to day jobs depend on what department I am currently working for, as we move placement's throughout the apprenticeship. I am currently working in the Research & Development department and I am also supporting Turbine Products. I use design software such as AutoDesk Inventor and MasterCam in my job role to aid in the design/modification of fixtures and to produce models that can be used for programming components.  I have also spent time on the shop floor and have worked with the process engineering department to produce programs for CNC grinding machines.
What is the favourite part of your job?

The favourite part of my job role is being able to work through design problems with different members of the team and then model the component on the computer to produce the program, that will machine the solution. I also enjoy writing programs and seeing the program working on the machine to produce conforming components.  
Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship in engineering?

A combination of things made me chose an apprenticeship in engineering, mostly because I enjoyed design & technology at school and being able to solve problems. I was always practical and hands on, so I didn't want to be in a job where I would be office based all the time. I also wanted to be challenged with different problems so I wasn't doing the same thing everyday.
What would you say to other females considering a job in engineering?

Go for it! The stereotypical image of engineering being a 'dirty' job isn't true, there are a lot of different areas that you can go into such as design, quality and process engineering to name a few. It's a rewarding job and you can form a great career by working in engineering.

Jennifer Butler

Project Leader in Planning Governance for BAE Systems Maritime - Submarines


Describe what your job entails on a day-to-day basis?

I am currently working on the development and creation of new cross functional business processes to support a new IT toolset implementation project for the Successor class of submarines. The Successor project and it’s new toolset (Siemens Teamcenter) will dramatically change BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines way of working so, for the next few years, I will be supporting the transition to the new  business processes particularly for the Planning & Project Control function.

The Teamcenter implementation occurs over a series of ‘Drops’ happening every 3 months so I am constantly attending workshops to support detail design and process development, engaging with stakeholders and managing expectations. I have to constantly communicate back to the Planning & Project Control Function to keep everyone up to date on progress as well as gather their requirements. Also, in my governance role, I can be found auditing existing processes and looking at ways to improve our deployment methods.

What is the favourite part of your job?

I work with a lot of different people across various internal functions, other companies and differing levels. The project I am currently working on includes people from Siemens, IBM, Sener and independent Contractors as well as BAE staff so I get to meet a varied range of people from all over the world which keeps things interesting and dynamic!

How did you come to do the job you do?

I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be whilst I was at school so I kind of floated along and chose the subjects I liked and was interested in rather than have any specific goal in mind. However, by the time I started my A Levels, I became interested in the new and more exciting topics that were Sixth Form College had to offer that hadn’t been available at my school for GCSE. So I embarked on A Level Law and find myself really enjoying my 2 years of study and actually had a natural talent for it. Following this I went on to study law at university (Lancaster University) where my taste actually changed! The reality hit of what life would be like if I continued to study law and, in all honesty, the degree wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.

During my university holidays I became a trainee in the Commercial department of BAE Systems Land Systems – Weapons. This opened my eyes to the world of business and Engineering, and I loved it. I loved it so much the Commercial team invited me back each summer holidays for the duration of my degree and then offered me a permanent job at the end of it! So after graduation I became a Project Engineer working in the Spare team on the M777 howitzer. I really enjoyed the challenge this initial role brought, as the guns were actually being used in Afghanistan at the time so everything was really fast paced.

Since joining BAE 6 years ago I have moved roles and indeed functions a number of times (from Project Engineer I moved to Quality Assurance Engineer before becoming a Senior Process Development Engineer then my current role of Project Leader). All of which have given me a great understanding of Engineering.

What would you say to other females considering a job in engineering?

Go for it! It’s a really interesting area to work in, constantly changing with a broad mix of people involved. There can be a lot of men but there really are more and more women joining every year. We will out number them soon!

Jane High

Director – Robert Bion Ltd


Describe what your job entails on a day-to-day basis?

As I work for a SME I have a number of different hats, although primarily I split my time between financial, HR and Sales.  Having worked for the company for 29 years it has given me the opportunity to be involved in milestones and projects that I might not have been involved in had I specialised in one field.  Working for a SME has given me experience of areas that I would not have previously imagined, such as marketing (website design), ISO our quality system, SMED and other lean disciplines.

What is the favourite part of your job?

I like the satisfaction of a job well done, so if we recruit a new person and I watch them develop in their role this is extremely satisfying.  Likewise to win new business or have a satisfied customer is equally rewarding.

How did you come to do the job you do?

I left school at 16 and did 1 year at technical college doing business studies and shorthand and typing.  I started work at 17 and remained in part time study doing both a ONC and HNC in Business Studies.   I worked to begin with in the service sector, public transport and then public utilities but did not really fit in with the large corporation culture.  I then worked for a start-up manufacturing company based in Reading who did ceilings and lighting and really enjoyed this.  During the early 1980s I diversified into catering and ran my own business (where I learnt about finance) and also had a Health Food Shop.  These two businesses were sold in 1985 and I found myself in need of a “proper job” to pay the bills.  I signed on for a temp agency and was working at Courage Brewery in Reading as a part time typist when I saw a job advertised at Bion for PA to Directors/Book-Keeper and thought I can do that.   At the time I joined the company it was going through changes in terms of its offering moving from press work to perforating and as a result in the early 1990s went through a period of significant growth in sales revenue.  I was lucky enough to be able to contribute to this growth by using both my experience and skills to grow the role as the company grew.  In 1994 I was made a Director in recognition of my hard work.   During my time at Bion I also returned to college part time to do the Diploma in Management Studies HNC QA in Mechanical Engineering and AAT.

What would you say to other females considering a job in engineering?

I think the challenges of making something for a living are rewarding. I like it that we make a product and that when I go out and I can spot where perforated metal is used.

It is highly rewarding to be involved in a project where you can witness the benefits process re-engineering or team working and problem solving can achieve. 

I think females generally like life to be less complicated – therefore we are ideally suited to a career in engineering.

As it is still primarily a male environment one massive benefit is no queue for the loo!




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