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If we give everyone their opportunity to shine, we'll no longer see them as different.
Katie Brown,Maintenance Engineering Apprentice

Katie Brown has been with Nestlé for six months, developing her practical skills with an experienced engineer in our factories. We sat down with Katie to hear how she's overcome her doubts to go from strength to strength in her apprenticeship role and why connecting with others is important in the workplace.

What excites you most about your role and working for Nestlé?

I love finding out how things work. Part of my time here has been factory based, helping to dismantle and reassemble components and I've learnt new skills like welding, milling and electrical wiring too.

I used to be in awe of the equipment here and never thought I'd be able to understand how to fix it. Now I'm confident that when I've completed my apprenticeship, I'll be able to find faults and solve them myself.

What has been the best advice you've been given in your career? Do you have any top tips of your own for new starters?

Be interested in what's going on around you. If you're naturally shy, find a way that works for you to build relationships. Most people are willing to pass on their experience and guide you along the way, but it's up to the person learning to get involved. Ask if you can sit in on meetings or pass someone equipment. If you make yourself visible without getting in the way, you'll soon anticipate what needs to be done and can help your colleagues.

The theme for International Women's Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Have you faced any biases in your career and how have you handled them?

I've worked with many different people over the years, some of different ages, races, and with both visible and hidden disabilities. What I've found is that every person can make a difference. It tends to be other people who hold us back by not allowing individuals to demonstrate their abilities. 

If we give everyone their opportunity to shine, we'll no longer see them as different. It's not easy and some situations will be less comfortable than others. I know I felt awkward being at college at a similar age to most of the other students' mums, but it didn't take long for me to fit in.  At the end of the day, I'm learning the same skills as everyone else.

Are you involved with any of Nestlé's inclusion and belonging initiatives?

To belong, you must connect with people. I've joined the volunteering project at Waterswallows Nature Reserve, which is in its early stages. I'm hoping that because I'm joining with other volunteers, there will be opportunities to get to know people in a relaxed environment.

Is there anyone that inspires you, either personally or professionally?

My mum was always one of those people who just got on with things, whether it was decorating or joinery, crochet or sewing, DIY or gardening. She decided to study GCSE psychology in her late forties and enjoyed it so much that she went on to do it as an A-level, a degree and then her masters. 

She never judged me on my decisions but gave advice if I asked for it. I was raised with two brothers and she didn't believe that different genders should take on different roles. We all chipped in and learnt the skills she thought were important in life.

What has been your proudest moment at Nestlé?

I was delighted to be asked and participate in a Channel 4 clip on apprenticeships. As an older person, I hope we got the message across that there's no upper age limit to learning. If only one person takes the plunge after watching me do the same, then the experience is a success.

What one thing would you like to see more people doing to be more inclusive?

I'd like to see people be more proactive. There's only one way to discover if you can do something and that's by giving it a go. If you find you can't do it, then find ways to either learn or get round it. With the right approach your positivity will shine.

I think we can do more to avoid prejudging too, to talk to everyone and if someone is struggling to join in, help them break the ice.