In the week that we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day and award our own Female Engineer of the Year, our Chairman Sir Peter Gershon reflects on the important contribution women are making to National Grid’s engineering community.
I’m delighted to have this opportunity to recognise all our female engineers in National Grid on this year’s International Women in Engineering Day (INWED20). COVID-19 has meant changes to the way many of us would have marked the day, but that only serves to underline the importance of innovation and resilience, which has characterised our collective response to the pandemic.
Engineering plays a critical role in our business. It’s a core competence that has thrived and evolved over many years, and it will continue to be essential for National Grid to play its full role in the transition to a net zero economy. In support of this, we continue to place great emphasis on continuing professional development and accreditation through membership of a professional engineering institution.
I was fortunate to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2001. Much of my career has been involved with large, complex systems in a variety of different environments. Looking back, my career has been characterised by regularly stepping outside my comfort zone to develop new skills, deal with new experiences and learn how to cope with situations where there is uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
In the latter part of my career, velocity and suddenness of change have also become a feature, with the COVID pandemic being the most recent example. This emphasises the great learning and development opportunities a career in engineering opens for anyone who joins our profession.
On site visits, I’m always heartened to see our female engineers undertaking an amazing range of roles and activities. While this is indicative of the progress we have made in improving the gender balance and other aspects of diversity in our engineering population, we still have more to do to be truly representative of the society we serve.
I know many of the female engineers at National Grid are active in their efforts to promote engineering as a career to young people. I hope INWED20 reinforces the determination of women in engineering to act as role models to encourage more girls at school to pursue a career in this field.
Every year we run our Female Engineer of the Year competition, to recognise the women at National Grid who have made exceptional contributions to our engineering community. Last year we had joint winners – Jagruti Pala and Suzanna Bryant – who were worthy recipients of the award. This year our award goes to Jennifer Glenister, who works as a Project Supervisor on our electricity construction projects and is committed to acting as a role model to inspire the next generation of female engineers.
Despite working through these unfamiliar times, I am proud to see the engineering community continuing to rise to new challenges and show National Grid at our best.