Every year on the 8th of March, people all over the world celebrate the progress and achievements made by women. This year, Precise Consultants interviewed 7 women from the Oil and Energy industry who are all at different points in their careers. Although it is commonly perceived as male dominated industry, many women have accomplished rewarding careers in Oil and Energy.
Meet Claire Cooper.
A 34-year old Project Manager in the High Voltage Electrical sector, with a keen focus and interest in Renewable Energy Projects (offshore wind). After completing A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Design Technology Claire went on to study for a Masters of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Surrey. Currently Claire is working for H&Askham Ltd, an electrical installation company.
Claire on what inspired her to work in the renewable energy industry
I have always been passionate about engineering, from a young age I have been exposed to engineering activities with my Dad working as a Precision Engineering for the manufacturing sector. I also had an extremely influential Design Technology teacher at school who first introduced me to the idea of pursuing my interest in engineering and technology at University. During my career I have been exposed to a number of different industrial sectors including manufacturing, construction and utilities. I enjoy large scale engineering projects because they offer so much variety – every day brings new challenges and the journey we take is a constant learning curve. As Renewable Energy became an increasingly hot topic it was immediately something I was very interested to learn more about. With H&Askham I have been given the opportunity to actually work on these projects and make a valuable contribution to the success of the projects, the industry and the legacy we will leave behind for future generations.
Claire tells us about her favourite accomplishments
Although my training as an engineer has been as a result of following an academic route through University, I have always been very aware that engineers with practical skills are extremely important to complement any engineering team. When working as part of my family’s manufacturing business I could see a skills shortage of young engineers entering the industry. This inspired me to set up a scheme for the company. Not being from a background in education, and having no knowledge or experience of apprenticeships it was extremely hard work, and at times I did doubt I would ever succeed. However once all of the paperwork was in place I was inundated with applications, in fact I was overwhelmed by the positive response. The candidates I selected proved to be a great success, both in their first year being nominated for awards at college and in nationwide competitions. To date I feel that this is what I would consider one of my greatest accomplishments.
Claire on why she believes that she won the Business Personality of the Year award in 2010
I was awarded Business Personality of the Year whilst running my family’s Manufacturing Business. I believe that I won this award because at a time when UK manufacturing was experiencing adverse effects of the ‘credit crunch’ I worked hard not only in promoting and developing my company, but also the UK Manufacturing Industry as a whole. My work in developing the apprenticeship scheme, and the time I spent engaging with the local community to encourage careers in the Engineering and technology sector I think was key when the judges were making their decision. Although yes, business is about revenue and profits, without considering the engineers of tomorrow there would be no future for the industry. I believe that investing my time not just for profits but for much wider reaching benefits for the industry, and the local community, was something that stood me apart from other candidates.
3 characteristics that are essential to become successful in O&E according to Claire
Dynamic – Working on offshore projects can at times be very demanding. Due to the environmental conditions of the projects the plan of works can constantly change. As an engineer you need to be able to react quickly and adapt to the changing plans.
Team Player – large scale engineering projects involve lots of different stakeholders. Working together, as a team, effectively, is key for successful delivery of all projects. In different ways everyone has an important role and a good engineer will have an appreciation and awareness of how their role/work scope fits in with the overall project team and plan. In order to perform tasks and make the most effective decisions.
Excellent eye for detail – in the O&E industry, especially when working offshore small errors can have huge implications; health & safety, quality, milestone completion and project finances can all be adversely affected by seemingly small oversights with the consequences hindering project success.
Claire’s advice to women interested in working in O&E
I am often asked about discrimination against women within the industry I work in; this is something I have never encountered. I strongly believe that people are accepted into their working environment and successful based on their skills, knowledges and achievements in their role. I actively strongly encourage young women to consider a career in the engineering sector. I believe that in all teams there is a place for a variety of skills sets, knowledge and experience, so for those of us that have an interest in the way things work, in how things are built and produced then that alone will help drive you a long way in becoming a successful engineer. With regards to the Renewables sector specifically, this holds a unique draw for many because of the powerful impact it will have on all or our lives and for many many years to come; to be part of this special industry is something to be extremely proud of. Everybody uses electricity in their life, we all depend on it, however our environment depends on us to look at ways to generate this more safely and efficiently. The industry is fast growing and dynamic, and I would tell all women aspiring to be engineers and to make a difference that Renewable Energy is an exciting place to be.
I enjoy my work very much and am keen to remain part of the industry we work. I enjoy involvement with projects from the initial tendering stages right through the construction and close-out phases. Outside of my day-to-day working life I hope to attain my Chartered Engineer status. Also I want to continue my work in raising the profile of the engineering industry to younger generations. I can’t stress enough how important I think the engineering industry as a whole is to the UK and our economic strength, and this future relies on the engineers of tomorrow.
Happy International Women’s Day!!