What interests you in your role, how has your role/career developed in Schneider?
Although I have been in my role for a few years now, it has constantly changed and evolved over time. The role is quite different now to when I first stepped into it.
It is now a much more diverse role with several layers to it. I love that it now spans across various business units, meaning I get to interact with more people from many different areas and levels within the business, from sales, marketing and commercial, to customer services and finance.
What’s a big challenge for you right now?
It’s a great privilege to be a manager of a team, and I have a really great team! I love helping people to develop their careers. I get a real buzz from seeing them grow and feel proud that I was able to play some small part in their progression. Unfortunately, the side effect is that I am quite often having to recruit to back fill the space created by people moving on from my team, and it is getting increasingly difficult to find the right people.
My challenge therefore, is how do I encourage a more diverse range of talent into our business? For that reason, I am looking to become a STEM ambassador. I would like to encourage young people who are maybe just considering their exam and career options to look at engineering, and in particular, the exciting opportunities that a career within Schneider can bring.
How would you explain your job to people not from our industry?
I manage a team of 15 people who are split into two quite different areas.
One area is Sales Engineer Support… a telephone service operated by a team of 5 people who support the sales teams out in the field. They provide our sales teams with information regarding quotation/order progression, and help to connect them to other areas of the business.
The other area is a team of highly skilled technical engineers who provide quotations to customers interpreted from drawings and specifications. This brings me into contact with several aspects of the business, and constantly challenges me to improve our processes and the way we interact with customers and sales engineers.
How has Schneider supported you?
Over the years in Schneider, I have received a substantial amount of professional training which has helped me to work more effectively and shape the approach I take to my role.
I have also been given the opportunity to get involved in projects which have given me exposure to other areas of the business, thereby broadening my experience beyond my ‘day job’ and opening up different networking opportunities.
Who has supported you, been a guide or role model? How?
It was Paul Canning who gave me my first management opportunity when I progressed from Tendering Team Leader to Tendering Manager.
I was extremely grateful of the opportunity and worked hard to justify his faith in my ability.
More recently, Spencer Pope has been a great inspiration in the way he has formed the TBO and brought it together from across the business units to shape it into collaborative and supportive team it is today.
I am continuing to learn a great deal from him regarding strategy, planning and organisation. Every day is a learning day in TBO as it interfaces with so many other teams and departments. It’s a great team to be a part of.
Of course, it also helps to have the unwavering support of my husband, who always seems to say the right things to get me through tough days and put things back into perspective if I start to feel a little overwhelmed.
What’s impressive to you about Schneider Electric in terms of its people, culture, work, opportunities etc?
One of the most impressive things about Schneider is it’s culture. The more I talk to others about the companies they work for, the more I realise that Schneider is way ahead of the game when it comes to it’s culture.
In my experience, the company values encourage you to be the best version of yourself, and opportunities for development and progression are infinite. What really impressed me when I first joined Schneider, (and still impresses me today) is that there is no predetermined line of progression. You can take your career in what ever direction interests you, be that upwards, across different departments, or even different countries.
How can we support the progression of female careers across Schneider Electric?
I would like to see greater active involvement from senior management in Diversity activities/forums etc, particularly if they are from areas where females have been traditionally under-represented. Let’s not just talk the talk, let’s walk the walk!
If we are to make the most of the diverse range of talent that we have within the business, we cannot take a one dimensional view, as this tends to restrict people to the traditional career silos. ie: women’s’ careers are generally in HR, Finance or Customer Services, but not so often in Technical roles.
The driver needs to come from the top, and sometimes managers just need to take a risk, and look outside of the traditional pool of talent. What is lacking in experience in a particular field, might be more than made up for by other skills, as well as enthusiasm and fresh perspective.
What advice would you give to your “younger self”?
I would say ‘believe in yourself – aim higher – face the fear and do it anyway’. Have a go, give it a try. The worst that can happen is that you learn how not to do it!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Supportive, Enthusiastic, Professional
What’s the one best piece of career advice you’ve been given, and why is it relevant at Schneider Electric?
When you are reading a job description, don’t feel you have to tick all the boxes before you apply. If you tick all the boxes, you have nowhere left to develop, so you’re not aiming high enough.
I am the manager of a team of technical engineers, but I am not technically trained and I don’t have the ‘required HNC in Electrical Engineering’. What I do have is, leadership and management skills. I can recruit the right people, I can build strong, high performing teams, I can formulate processes and resolve issues, I can collaborate and negotiate at all levels. I get by on the technical knowledge I have picked up over the years, but I bring much more to the team than just that.
How do you ensure upon your great well-being & do you have any activities outside of work?
I go to the gym 3 times a week to Body Combat classes which I really enjoy, although it’s quite a high intensity workout, so I feel absolutely shattered afterwards.
We have also just got a new puppy who is very energetic and gets us up at ridiculous hours of the morning to go out walking and playing frisbee.
Apart from that, I love to travel and visit new places on holiday. We have a trip to South Africa booked for later in the year where we are looking forward to a safari, as well as travelling the garden route to Cape Town, to experience the changing landscapes of this beautiful country.
I am also lucky enough to have a great circle of close family and friends who I can relax and enjoy a couple of cheeky G&Ts with at the weekends.