Ask an engineer: Edith

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), we’ve asked six of our women engineers a series of questions about how engineering affects their lives and careers, as well as their thoughts on future innovation. 

Edith is a Distribution Manager.

 

On becoming and being an engineer:

What inspired you to become an engineer?

I have always been interested in how things work, science and technology have always fascinated me. I have never just accepted that things happen and have always had a keen interest not only in how things work, but also how they were developed and how they can be improved upon going forward.

What barriers (if any) have you encountered in your career?

Engineering has always been seen a male-dominated industry, whether that’s been a conscious or unconscious view. If we applied that thought process to any other profession e.g. law, medicine, or indeed business in general it would now seem ridiculous. I’m a firm believer in a meritocracy; the best person for the job. Women sadly have been under-represented in engineering – this is changing slowly but culturally this needs a step change. This sometimes results in self-imposed pressure to prove you are just as good – double competence.

What advice would you give to potential future women in engineering?

I would say just be yourself, keep pushing and be the best you can possibly be. I’m a firm believer that if you work hard and aren’t afraid of taking on responsibility you will succeed even against any barriers you may encounter.
 

Edith Kanyoka

On working in the energy industry:

How do you think being a woman engineer has shaped your career experience so far?

It has made me unafraid to stand on my own when I have to. I remember always being the only female in the room. As mentioned I have always been fascinated by how things work, how they are developed and how they can be improved. I’ve applied this philosophy to my own career development but it can equally be applied to all aspects of life, and it has helped me become more of a critical thinker.

What has surprised you most about working in engineering?

I’ve always worked in engineering so I can say that things have surprised me and, having worked in various areas of engineering and for very different organisations from utilities to military, it’s interesting to see that although the environment – and indeed the technology – is different, the common aspect and engineering approach and knowhow is amazingly similar.

How is your work changing the industry for the better?

In my role I look for ways to improve existing processes but also people. We have a lot of people that have the ability but sometimes haven’t had the opportunity to develop and drive the industry forward. I enjoy spotting these individuals and encouraging them to develop themselves and the industry. My role now involves managing the network feeding over 155,000 customers. I ensure that customers’ supplies are safe and reliable by maintaining asset condition, carrying out repairs when required and upgrading the network or building a new network, which is in line with supporting the innovative net zero strategy. I cannot do this effectively if I don't look for ways to develop processes and, importantly, the workforce.
 


On a more personal level:

Has your job influenced how you approach other areas of your life?

My job has opened my mind and changed the way I think.
What qualities do you have that make you good at what you do?
An interesting question – I guess it’s for others to judge whether I’m good or not, but the key thing as mentioned is to work hard and be the best version of yourself you possibly can be, whether that’s as an engineer, a manager or in life. The feedback I get has been positive from staff and colleagues and the performance figures demonstrate that improvements are being made. I am never satisfied though and always look for continual improvement. I measure and quantify; if you measure you can identify issues and then improve – it’s a continuous cycle. I find 360 feedback very useful and I encourage open and honest conversations with the people I manage.

Did you have an engineering role model that inspired you?

Katherine Jackson  
 


On innovation and the future of engineering:

What innovative technologies or advances in engineering do you find most exciting?

I’m a believer in renewable energy, especially as a mother. Electric vehicles are an exciting leap forward, especially on the sheer scale and speed at which they are being implemented. In fact, I have just got one myself. I'm engaging with local authorities so I can better support the journey towards net zero by making sure the network I manage is ready and capable of what’s expected. 

What are you working on, or have worked on, that is considered innovative?

I’m always working to improve myself, my staff, and engineering working practices and procedures; everything can be improved if you measure, analyse, identify, plan act do  and review. This applies to both engineering and to life.
 

Meet more of National Grid’s women engineers