Cammell Laird celebrates strong female presence on International Women’s Day
Maritime engineering business Cammell Laird is celebrating the valuable contribution of its female members of staff on International Women’s Day.
Held all over the world on Sunday 8 March, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and makes a call to action for women’s equality.
Cammell Laird has a number of female employees working in engineering and office-based roles. Last year, the shipyard invited young women to hear about potential careers to try and get more female candidates through the gates as part of International Women in Engineering Day.
Chief operating officer Tony Graham said: “Women engineers and female workers make Cammell Laird a better business and we have always had a strong female presence across all of our department.
“Engineering is now more open than it has ever been to women and we have a number of female engineers who are flourishing in their jobs. It offers a varied, rewarding career for women with an opportunity to grow and stretch themselves undertaking fascinating work. Cammell Laird is looking forward to continued growth over the next ten years and our female engineers and support staff will play an important role in that future.”
Mechanical quality inspector Kirsten Blood joined Cammell Laird aged 17 on a four-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship in 2010. Her role involves working on the ships that come in to be repaired or refitted for several weeks at a time, and the business is putting her through a diploma in quality management to progress her career further.
“I didn’t fancy going to university so I knew the apprenticeship route would suit me better and I see a great future for me here,” she says. “I’m assigned to one ship at a time which can be a two-week project or a refit lasting up to 12 months.”
She believes the industry would benefit from more women coming through the ranks. “The shipyard is fast-paced and ever-changing and there’s always a huge sense of achievement in everything we do. It can be a bit disheartening that there aren’t more female chief engineers or captains of ships, so we want to see more girls coming through the yard. I go to meetings and I might be the only woman in a room of 20 and I think that shouldn’t be the case.”
Assistant ship manager and mum-of-one Claire Biggar joined Cammell Laird after six years in the Royal Navy as a weapons engineer. She travelled the world, having joined the forces on an electrical engineering apprenticeship, and finished her career on board the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
“Ship building, and engineering, amazes me every day and it can be whatever you want it to be and take you wherever you want to go,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that we’re women, we’re just members of the workforce when we’re here.”
In her current role, she has overseen the painting of polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough.
She said: “I love being in the shipyard, it’s a great environment to be in, and I can see a long career for me with Cammell Laird. I work in overalls and a hard hat and I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but I have my nails and hair done too and when I go home at night, I’m a mum again.”
Company secretary Diane Gough joined the shipyard in 2004 and currently supports the chief operating officer and managing director, acting as a conduit between them and the senior leadership team and communicating their messages throughout the business.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work in every non-engineering department at Cammell Laird and I’ve worked on the processes and procedures for a lot of the departments, so I know the business inside out,” she said. “There’s real stability in the business and I’ve been lucky to choose where I wanted to work, enabling me to grow as the company has grown. Cammell Laird is so highly regarded around the world and people are always interested when you mention where you work.”
Head of procurement Jane Bryan has worked all over the country, but joining Cammell Laird in 2019 was one of her proudest moments. She started her career as a graduate mechanical engineering apprentice for Rolls-Royce and has worked in lots of different roles for some very large and well- known engineering companies.
“What’s different here is the feeling of being part of the fabric of the town,” she said. “If Cammell Laird does well, the whole community feels the effect and people are invested in its future. There’s a warm feeling here and a great future ahead with a full order book and ongoing investment in the people and the facilities.”