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Women in Engineering – Nicole Chamberlain

On International Women in Engineering day we meet Nicole Chamberlain, one of our apprentices in our Fawdon factory.

Nicole started a four-year Engineering apprenticeship at our Fawdon factory in October 2012, and since completing it has taken up a role as an electrical technician. Nicole took a secondment into automation engineering and finished a Bachelor in Engineering (BENG) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 2020. Now, just one of two Automations Engineers on site, Nicole manages her own team.

The 26-year-old said: "I always knew I wanted to be an engineer. Both my Dad and Auntie work in engineering so I was lucky to have two role models that inspired me. Leaving school to go into engineering was a no brainer for me. At first teachers and family members were concerned, it was almost the rule to choose University instead of an Apprenticeship. However, the combination of hands on learning and establishing early career networks meant that the Apprenticeship was the right decision for me and my career prospects.

"When I joined Nestlé I felt extremely welcomed from everyone I met, from the people on the factory floor to the management I met. I will admit I initially expected there to be resistance based upon antiquated stereotypes around women in this area, however, I am pleased to say that this wasn’t the case. I have felt a lot of encouragement from my team, and I have been championed by other female engineers I have met.

"Throughout my career, I have seen a very conscious effort to subvert stereotypes associated with engineering. Although the working environment is still male dominated, it is not a "male job". I have reached out to our Women in Engineering group at Nestlé, a great network set up to offer support and share our experiences. Fawdon has recently hired a new female factory engineer, so it is really motivating to see our group grow. Hopefully expanding even more in the future."

Nicole said her proudest moment has been to be named as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering through Women in Engineering Society (WES), for past and current apprentices.

"I think women in engineering is important to talk about, to help change perceptions about the work environment and opportunities. My top three reasons why I believe Women in Engineering is so important right now.

Engineering is more than just fixing things, it is generating ideas and you need to have diverse perspectives. Helping to bring a different mind-set or way of thinking to work, such as compassion. Encourage people to follow their passions and explore their skills and not be held back based on their gender."

The engineer added: "If I could give advice to any women thinking about a career in engineering, it would be to follow your aspirations, there is plenty of support out there. Take opportunities to learn from others' experiences but know your skills and develop them because you can make a difference."