Caitlin studied MEng Chemical Engineering with Industrial Experience at the University of Manchester. Find out how she got her job at Unilever
How did you get your job?
I worked at Unilever on my industrial placement year and kept up good contacts with them throughout my final year of university. After making a good impression on placement, I was offered a graduate role.
Engineering is a typically male-dominated industry. Why did you decide on this career?
I'm a hands-on person who loves to problem solve and I enjoy maths. Having gone to an all-girls school, luckily I did not feel outnumbered by boys at school.
What's a typical day like as a process engineer?
I collect data in the lab, then analyse the results on the computer and try to fit models to see if we can predict certain outcomes in the factory based on lab trends. I also have lots of meetings and presentations to discuss my findings.
What do you like about working for Unilever?
I like the people-first aspect of the company and the way that sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. I also relish the atmosphere at work. Everyone is happy and has a good work life balance.
What more needs to be done to increase female representation in engineering?
I think we need more STEM workshops being taught at schools, which incorporate increased explanations of where engineering courses can lead and what they involve. I also think there needs to be more of an understanding of how many doors engineering qualifications open and how the representation of women in the industry is increasing rapidly every year.
What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
Discovering solutions through digital. The use of digital technology can save huge amounts of time and money through industry 4.0. I enjoy seeing how technology is changing the future and trying to involve that as much as possible in my job.
I also enjoy seeing a project through and seeing visual results.
What are the challenges?
Working remotely means that things take longer. Also working with different people - for example those who work in factories, operators, chemists, mechanical engineers and marketing and I often have to connect the dots and adapt my approach to work with different groups.
In what way is your degree relevant to your job?
I directly apply things I learned from my chemical engineering degree in particular fluid behaviours, safety and scale-up principles. It's a directly translatable degree.
How did you get involved with the Women's Engineering Society (WES) and how have they supported you?
I found out about WES in my second year of university. It motivates me and encourages me to do more for female engineers. WES joined up with my university in my final year so the University of Manchester now has its own WES society.
What are your career ambitions?
I would like to be more involved with renewable energy and consulting.
Tell us about three issues affecting the engineering sector today.
- Implementing industry 4.0 and digital into factories.
- In FMCG finding a solution to the palm oil rainforest problem is very complicated.
- Waste in production for items that are not high quality enough to be sold.
What advice would you give to other aspiring process engineers?
Try and get involved with as many teams as possible to expand your learning. Don't expect to be taught things by others. In my experience you always have to figure things out for yourself and be brave in doing so.
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- Discover what you can do with a chemical engineering degree.
- Gain an insight into the engineering and manufacturing sector.
- Learn more about women in engineering.