What made you get into the role you currently work in?
I started at Whitemeadow 11 years ago in the role that’s is now known as a Coordinator (I believe I was the first one doing this at Export) then I worked my way up to a Supervisor, so being a Manager felt like natural progression.
What was your background before you started at Whitemeadow?
I was a machinist from leaving school- starting on lingerie, then car seats and finally sofas at Derwent upholstery, which is now Parker Knoll.
Were people in the factory surprised to have a female boss?
No, I don’t believe they were surprised that I was their boss, I think at that stage I’d been at the company long enough doing the Supervisor role that people kind of expected it.
What challenges did you face when you first started and how did you overcome them?
We already had a great team that worked well together in production, but I guess it’s tying all the loose ends together and communicating effectively that helps. I did get a few individuals who struggled with being told what to do by a woman, but over time I’ve earned respect from people and tried to improve things wherever I can.
What changes have you seen over your time here with regards to the workforce and attitudes towards women in the factory environment?
I honestly don’t think we had a negative attitude towards women and men’s roles because we’re quite a mixed group to begin with. We had a female upholsterer at Export on stools, and we now have more guys doing the inspection which tended to be more women historically. Also, we have women doing cushion filling, which again was more male orientated in the past. I do feel this is being pushed more now though on upholstery and sewing which can only be a good thing.
What are your future aspirations regarding your team and your role here?
Hopefully I’m still employed by the company! I’m always looking for ways to improve efficiency and production and create a pleasant working environment that inspires people to work to their best standards. I’d like a happy, productive workforce, that communicates and works well together, and I’d like to see more of them progress into future Supervisor & Manager roles here too!
What advice would you give to women and girls that would like to work in a male-dominated role?
I’d say go for it! There’s help, support and advice out there for anyone who’s not scared of hard work and can face daily challenges. It’s an incredibly rewarding role and something to be proud of.