Philippa King-Smith

Posted on Tuesday 8th July 2014
Philippa-King-Smith

Business Development Manager, Ardmac Performance Contracting Ltd
BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering (2001)

An engineering degree gives employers the confidence that you have the capability to think logically, learn quickly, absorb information, complete tasks and deal with external pressures.

An engineering degree gives employers the confidence that you have the capability to think logically, learn quickly, absorb information, complete tasks and deal with external pressures. The real learning starts when you begin a project and have to put the theory into practice in a real life application where you have to impress both a client and employer. Your ability to absorb information at this point is the difference between sinking and swimming. Luckily, with the right support I was able to swim. I was hired as a Project Engineer by a food processing equipment engineering firm. I absorbed every bit of experience I could from the more senior engineers around me. I got some great experience from working directly with the fabrication department, who taught me that design constraints extend to how you can bend sheet metal, restrictions on procurement as well as the costs and time associated with my designs. Real engineering is having awareness of all the constraints and working towards the best solution with minimum compromise. I took all this knowledge and experience with me and have utilised it in all my management roles since.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I have a strong engineering background giving me a great foundation to a more commercial role.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in engineering and science?
I come from a family of mathematicians and I knew that although I was competent, I was always happier when using the theory in an applied situation. A supportive Physics teacher suggested I visit Salford University on a 'Women in Engineering' open day. I loved it, and my decision to pursue Mechanical Engineering at degree level was made.

If you could change one thing about the culture of engineering and science today what would it be?
I would like to see Engineers given the same respect in the UK as they are given across Europe.

Did you get involved in any societies volunteering or extra-circular activities while at University that boosted your interest in a career in engineering and science?
I did vacational work at an engineering firm, which secured me a role when I graduated.

What advice would you give to girls wishing to pursue a career in engineering or science?
Don't let perceptions of a male dominated environment stop you from achieving your potential in a very rewarding industry. Think like an engineer; take gender out of it, it’s irrelevant.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
The University of Birmingham is a fabulous place to study, especially as an engineering student. It's great to see the work they are doing to increase the numbers of women in engineering.