Mechanical Project Manager
Arthur McKay Building Services
Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be in the job you are currently in?
I started off with a training apprenticeship with a mechanical engineering company. This involved being office based with the company with a one day a week release to college for 4 years.I then did a further 1 years office based training working on smaller projects. Gradually I was given more responsibility and the projects I now deal with range from all types of installation from air conditioning, heating, ventilation and plumbing and also in project value.
What attracted you to this area of work?
I was interested in architecture and enjoyed technical studies and the technical drawing subjects at school. I was interested in engineering but was not really aware of all the engineering options available.
In what ways were you encouraged or discouraged to pursue your chosen career? Please explain further.
Most people were helpful but found it an unusual choice of job. I decided I wanted to try and get an apprenticeship as I felt this training was better suited to myself. I went for a number of interviews in a short timescale and one of the main questions asked was how I would deal with being on building sites or how would I feel only working with men. Generally a lot of people assumed that I would not enjoy working outdoors etc or would have a problem working within a mainly male environment.
Did you encounter any barriers trying to pursue your chosen career along the way?
Part of my work involves attending building sites to make sure that the mechanical design put together is actually installed correctly on site. This involves dealing with various levels of site based engineers from various companies. Generally on meeting someone for the first time they assume that I have no technical knowledge and have in the past directed technical questions to one of my male colleagues. You need to be able to demonstrate any technical knowledge you have and get your information across to people correctly.
Have you had to make any compromises to do so?
This is not a normal 9am till 5pm job and can at times involve working long hours to meet deadlines and also being away from home for a few days depending on what part of the country your specific project is in.
What subjects did you study at school/college/university?
At school I studied standard grade Maths, English, Art, Computing, Physics, Graphic communication, History.
I then took Highers in Maths, English, Art, Graphic Communication, Technical Studies.
At college as part of my apprenticeship I did an HNC in Building services engineering.
What attracted you to taking those subjects?
I enjoyed art and also graphic communication which included doing technical drawing plans and also computer drawing.
I was also advised that to study engineering further at college or university Physics and Maths would be helpful.
What advice would you give to other girls and young women who are thinking of pursuing the same career as you?
Not to rule out engineering without looking at all the options available. There are many different types of engineering jobs.
Finally, in general why do you think less girls and young women study science, engineering and technology subjects?
I don’t think people are made aware of the large choice of
engineering jobs available. The general impression is that to do
engineering involves working on a building site, getting dirty and
having to carry heavy equipment.
Engineering can also involve designing, drawing and project planning in advance as well as the on site installation work.
Any further information?
I have been doing this type of job for over 15 years now and find most people very helpful. Most people when meeting them for the first time get over the initial surprise of a female engineer quickly and are good to work with.
I have found that I am also dealing with more female engineers & architects for projects.