On International Women’s Day, Jess Queenan – Service Engineer at Baxi – shares her experiences of working in the plumbing and heating industry:
Why did you decide on this career?
When I left school, I didn’t know for certain what I wanted to do, but faced with having to choose a career, I ended up studying accounting. When I became a qualified accountant and started my first job however, I quickly realised that being in an office environment didn’t suit me at all. Following this, I spent a short time doing bar jobs and then working as a waitress. During this time, my dad, a Gas Safe registered engineer, suggested a career in the plumbing and heating industry. At first, I wasn’t sure but the more I learned about the job it seemed like a good idea. I am a people person who likes to be challenged, which is great as problem solving and interacting with customers is something installers do daily.
What was your experience like training?
My dad helped to train me as his apprentice and I also went to college to gain my qualifications, before becoming a Gas Safe registered engineer. I feel it was this family connection that gave me the confidence to pursue a career in the sector, but it still wasn’t easy at first. I remember being laughed at on my first day of college by the male instructor. I was the only female there and it was quite intimidating. However, I got through it and since then I have rarely had any issues with anyone questioning my ability. Most people I have met have been extremely supportive, especially my male colleagues who are also engineers. In fact, most people are just curious about what life is like as a female engineer.
What is it like working at Baxi?
I have worked at Baxi now for a few years and really enjoy the work culture and going out to see customers. The brand is well-known and trusted, so customers have confidence in our products and what we do. Most of my work covers servicing heating and hot water systems and carrying out relevant repairs. I typically do around six jobs per day and generally book these in quite flexibly, so I am in control over my own day. I love meeting new people and my brain is constantly engaged. I have a great support network at Baxi and an amazing working relationship with the rest of the engineers in my team.
How can we encourage more women?
For the first four years of my career, I didn’t think many women existed in the industry! I know it sounds strange, but it did really feel like I was on my own. The problem is that this career isn’t typically aimed at women. In fact, many women are still pushed into hair and beauty or office-based jobs. I think a lot more women would consider a career if it was presented as an option, as it definitely has a lot to offer.
Overall, the key to encouraging more women is to normalise women in the industry and show them how we are working alongside men doing the same jobs. One day I would love to have my own female apprentice, as I am really passionate about helping more women discover the career opportunities in the plumbing and heating industry.
For more information about Baxi please visit www.baxi.co.uk