International Women in Engineering Day – Meet our Marshall Engineers!

International Women in Engineering Day celebrates its ninth year on 23 June, and is the perfect opportunity to showcase the amazing work being done by our women engineers.

We spoke to five engineers about their careers with Marshall so far, and what advice they have for women thinking about becoming an engineer in the future.

Rosina Chester

Electrical Avionics Fitter, Military Aerospace

I was in sixth form applying for paramedic science degrees and my best friend was working at Marshall as an apprentice. He used to tell me how his day went at work – it always sounded so exciting, even when it was challenging. One day, he said, "Why don’t you apply for Marshall?" He thought it would be right up my street and I would do well in the engineering field. He was right.

I joined Marshall in September 2015 as a trim apprentice. It was well suited to me because after applying, being accepted, and making my decision, I haven’t once looked back.

During lockdown I was placed on a major aircraft team at the very beginning of its input. As we were all segregated and locked into teams and hangers, it meant that from I remained on the same aircraft from start to finish throughout. That was my most rewarding experience to date.

It was really emotive watching the first input that I’d been integral to go out of the doors to the customer. I learned so much on that one input, and I still hold a sense of pride for that aircraft.

My advice for women thinking about becoming an engineer is this – do it. The barriers that have stood in the way of women pursuing careers in STEM are dissolving, and the support for women to come into engineering is, for the majority, in place. Plus, the opportunities are here, making this the best time to make that move if you want it.

Don’t allow fear of failure to hold you back. You can do everything anyone else can do in this sector. No one is born knowing anything, so come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn, and you’ll find yourself in an exciting field.

My dream project is being part of a team that makes the first fully electric commercial aircraft. Since I was young, I’ve always cared about the environment, so to create a future goal of zero-emissions travel for everyone would be the perfect project for me.

Devone Kennedy

Design Engineer, Futureworx

Engineering is in my family and that has influenced me a lot. Throughout my schooling, Technology and Design class was the only subject I excelled in.

One year out of school I heard a radio advert for an apprenticeship programme with Bombardier Aerospace in Belfast. Embarrassingly, I will admit now I didn’t know anything about the company. I visited the training school the next evening and when I saw the vice grips at the end of the benches and all the tools – that was all it took for me to apply. That was 12 years ago.

Having mentors was invaluable and I will always be grateful to the many, many people I’ve worked with who’ve pointed me in the right direction over the years, as well as the people who still do!

My most rewarding experience so far is realising that I am now helping apprentices and new employees with their design tasks. Being an apprentice and not knowing what-in-the-world you are doing, or being scared to do something wrong – I’ve been there countless times myself, and I’m so happy to return the favour.

I’m a solo parent to an almost six-year-old boy. Marshall has supported me many times in my years working here, such as in my return from my one-year maternity leave. They phased my return to a few days a week that helped me and my son settle. I was also phased into an exciting project using a programme I’d never used, and this was what I was craving most after 12 months of parenting.

If you’re thinking about becoming an engineer… just try it! If you have an aptitude for problem solving or curious about how things work, then make sure to attend work experience and you’ll see for yourself if you can fit in and thrive.

My dream project would be making a living from sipping cocktails from a yacht off the Italian coast – but it’s not likely, I know! However, I am keen to explore if military UAVs or drones could be made from salvaged aircraft material.

Lucy Skerritt

Business Partner – Transformation

I joined the Air Cadets when I was 15 and I loved what it offered me. When deciding on my career, I had to choose between joining the RAF and going to university. Ultimately, I chose to study Aerospace Systems Engineering at Coventry, doing an assessed year as part of my degree here at Marshall.

I’m not what you would call a ‘typical’ engineer. I’m more suited to working out a plan to answer a problem than the detail of the mechanical or electrical solution.

My most rewarding experience has got to be the exposure to strategic thinking that I got in Aerostructures. This was the first time I realised I could add value in a non-technical environment.

I worked for years on Dolphin and despite some of the challenges that we’re all aware of, it’s a very capable product. In Aerostructures, we also developed a rigorous way of assessing and implementing cost-reduction opportunities for the P-8 fuel tank which is continuing to reap rewards.

I’ve worked for Marshall for 11 years, joining straight from university. The company has supported me incredibly – from development of my technical capability, to leadership coaching and trusting me in positions that I was, frankly, under-qualified and inexperienced for!

I had a baby in 2020 and had six months off. It was on my return that I was able to take a different direction, moving away from engineering to focus on business change. I’m now focusing on transformation within Aerospace, supporting Neil McManus and the rest of the Aerospace leadership team to deliver our Fix/Focus/Grow business plan.

I have two pieces of advice. Firstly, get yourself a good mentor – someone who you admire professionally, whether that’s key personality traits, technical specialism, or career path. Secondly, work out what your strengths are and make sure you exploit them.

Emily Dowdell

Design Engineer, Marshall Canada

From a young age I had a curiosity about the way things worked. This curiosity drove my ambition in physics and math in high school. I decided to become an engineer because that curiosity did not diminish, but grew greater throughout my studies.

I’m still early in my career but the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far were during my graduate studies. I was given several opportunities on various projects with industry partners to finally apply what I’ve learned throughout my studies. I was also given the chance to independently complete a design project. I grew a lot as an engineer during that time.

Marshall has supported my career by allowing me to explore various projects and facets of the business, so I have been able to determine where I am best suited and where I have the greatest opportunity to learn and grow.

My advice for women thinking about becoming an engineer is to trust in yourself. Confidence is an underrated quality that – when backed up by the quality of your work – is important to thrive in a male dominated industry.

I haven’t decided yet what I aspire to do with my specialisation in design optimisation. However, I hope one day to be able to contribute to a project for developing a climate change technology or solution.

Emily Argyrou

Design Engineering Apprentice

I decided to pursue a career in STEM after a school assembly. There was a man performing lots of weird and wonderful science experiments, and I was fascinated by everything. From that moment, I knew I wanted to do investigations and learn about what things do and why they do them.

One day my auntie started speaking to me about aerospace engineering and the types of jobs involved in it. I took the leap and visited some women in engineering talks, managed to get some work experience at Safran for a few days, and at that point I knew engineering was for me.

My most rewarding experience so far is a simple one. It was the first ever document I produced which had my name on it that went out to a customer while I was on a rotation with Futureworx. I’m still early in my career but I proved to myself that I am capable as an engineer and that all my hard work was paying off.

Marshall has allowed me to learn and grow better than anything that could have been offered to me by a textbook. The company also helped me get involved with extra curriculum such as LaunchPad – a platform set up to encourage more young people to get into a STEM career path.

I’ve never felt disadvantaged being a woman in this currently male-dominated industry, and the engineering team here at Marshall have always made feel included.

There's never a dull moment in engineering because there’s always so much to learn and get involved with. If problem solving, modelling, researching, learning and presenting are things that appeal to you, then engineering is for you.

One piece of advice is to not shy away from opportunity. Make sure your voice is heard in the best way, and don’t be scared to speak up and help out.

My dream project would be working on a novel aircraft. The aerospace industry is in a very interesting position at the moment with the race for more sustainable air travel, so there are exciting opportunities on the horizon.