"There’s obviously access to a lot of information as an IET member but it’s also about the contacts and the networks. I’ve got to meet like minded people who are at the same professional level and have the same kinds of goals as me."
In 2010, 26 year old Michelle became one of the youngest female Chartered Engineers in the IET’s history and the only one on Tata’s 2,000 acre Scunthorpe site.
Taking five years to become professionally registered, she’s been very career focused since leaving school and has worked in various departments across the company to gain the necessary competencies. She’s now looking forward to settling into her current role and developing asset management knowledge across the medium section mill.
Michelle joined Tata Steelworks’ graduate scheme (formally Corus) in 2005 after completing a five year masters degree in Electrical and Electronic engineering in Aberdeen. Straight away she was focused on working towards professional registration and improving her knowledge and practical experience, and has worked her way around several areas of the works to prove her competence.
The scheme allowed her to develop experience across the whole business, including placements in departments such as the plate mill, continuous casting department and working on a large blast furnace project. During this time she was able to look into areas such as best practice in maintenance, therefore continuously improving her knowledge and skill set.
“I’ve been very lucky because I’ve moved around, getting a lot of exposure and making contacts that I can rely on for guidance,” she says.
It was important to Michelle to gain more practical experience, something she feels she missed out by not doing an apprenticeship.
“Because I didn’t do an apprenticeship the practical side was where I was lacking. So I did a six month part-time electricians course to get more experience plus I did several cycles of shift work so I could develop basic fault finding skills and understand how equipment operates,” she says.
Michelle then took on a permanent position at the company first as a shift electrical engineer and more lately a departmental maintenance engineer.
With this role I began to focus on asset management, looking at how we maintain our equipment, get the most effective maintenance routines and sustainable processes in place, and analysing equipment failures,” she says. “The role’s become more advanced and I’m working on things to bring us forward - asset management is about best practice and ongoing process where you just get better and better at maintenance etc.
“I want to progress down the asset management route, developing it across the entire steelworks, after that, well we’ll see!”
Michelle finds herself in illustrious company in the IET as her ultimate boss Tata Steel chairman Ratan Tata is an honorary member.
She joined the IET as a student at university and has found that one specific benefit of membership has continued to be of great use throughout her entire career: the IET Library.
“One thing I love about the IET, and I use all the time, is the library. Every time I get a project, one of the first things I do is go onto the library website, type in whatever I’m looking into and see what books they’ve got.
“Lately I’ve taken a lot out about leadership and effective management, but I’ve used the library so much over the years, especially when I was doing my thesis,” she continues. “I’ve been using it for ten years, all the way through my career so far, it’s fab!”
She is also finding that being an IET member is helping her advance her knowledge on asset management and helping her to educate her colleagues across the site by arranging an asset management conference through her Local Network (LN).
“I’m an active member of the IET Humber Local Network and I’m beginning to arrange an asset management conference through the IET for Tata. I’ve been speaking to the chairman of the Asset Management Technical and Professional Network (TPN) and I’m hoping the conference will help educate colleagues across the entire site and see it progress at site level.
“There’s obviously access to a lot of information as an IET member but it’s also about the contacts and the networks, I’ve got to meet like minded people who are at the same professional level and have the same kinds of goals,” she highlights. “Being an IET member has helped me turn the idea of a asset management conference into a reality!”