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Meet WPD's Five Wise Women

Forget the Three Wise Men, here are Five WISE Women

With continuing skills shortages making the business case for gender diversity, WISE – the national organisation which champions women in science and engineering – says that the UK is on target to reach one million women in STEM careers by 2020.

And this year, five women from WPD were nominated for WISE awards. These awards celebrate the success of women in industry, as leaders or trailblazers in STEM roles, and as an inspiration to the next generation of women.

Edith

WPD female employee smiling sitting at desk
Team Manager Edith Kanyoka is a STEM Ambassador.

Woman in Industry category: Team Manager Edith Kanyoka began her career as a helicopter engineer for the British Army, including a spell in Iraq. She still remembers being at work as rockets were thrown into the military compound.

Edith’s experience of delivering an efficient response in challenging circumstances was excellent preparation for her role here at WPD, where she and her team are responsible for the cables and ground-mounted equipment for Shrewsbury UG and Plant.

Edith, who joined us as a Technician at Northampton, said: “There are still not enough women going into engineering. People’s perceptions need to change. I still have occasions when the customer asks me ‘Where’s the engineer?’. They need to realise that women are doing these jobs, too.

“As a STEM Ambassador in schools, I get a chance to talk about my own experiences and hopefully to show girls they can be engineers, too, and that they can end up being the manager.”

Bhav

WPD female employee smiling sitting at desk
Bhav Patel is one of a growing number of female planners.

Rising Star category: In 2013, Bhav Patel was one of just four women to enrol on our planning and design training scheme. Six years on, she works in an office where almost half the planning roles are occupied by women. 

Bhav, an 11kV Planner at Tipton, joined us in a temporary administrative role before securing a place on the planning course. She and the other three female trainees were among the first women to be trained at our Taunton training school.

Bhav, who studied Economics and Russian at Sheffield University, said: “The response from men has always been positive. I have never thought about how being a woman has affected my career, although customers don’t always expect to deal with a woman.

“I would definitely encourage other young women to consider a similar career. Don’t think of it as being something only a man can do. In our office, there is an almost 50/50 split between male and female planners which I think is something to be celebrated and makes a real difference to the opportunities available.” 

Magda

Western Power Distribution female employee smiling with certificateTeam Leader Magda Paluch at her recent citizenship ceremony.

Rising Star and Woman in Industry categories: Magda Paluch is our only Statement of Works (SOW) Team Leader. 

After working as a Project Administrator in the metering department and a Team Support for the Primary Systems Design (PSD) team in the South West, she was appointed to her current role at Avonbank.

Magda and her team manage generation projects company-wide, submitting monthly updates to National Grid across 53 grid supply points between WPD and National Grid.

Magda, who left her native Poland at 19 to study at the University of Derby and has recently been granted UK citizenship, said: “With the WISE campaign, we are trying to promote women’s progression into more senior management roles across the company. It’s important that women don’t give up on their dreams.”

Magda has returned to college this year to complete her CMI Level 7 Extended Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership.

She added: “Hopefully, other women will see my journey as an inspiration and use it to motivate their own personal development.” 

Irena

Western Power female employee with glasses at computer
Engineer Irena Horobet: ‘Skills and knowledge are more important than gender."

Rising Star category: PSD Engineer Irena Horobet chose a degree in power systems engineering because she wanted a career with a more secure future.

Irena had worked in power systems engineering and energy supply in her native Romania when she moved to the UK and took a job as a Technical Estimator here at WPD. She was subsequently appointed to the post of PSD Engineer at Pegasus.

She said: “I had been helping out in planning for 18 months so I knew a lot of what went on in the department and I am still developing my skills and knowledge.

“I don’t think being a woman has been an advantage or a disadvantage. We have come a long way from where we were in previous decades but we are not quite there yet. It can take a long time for people to adapt to change.

“We need to stop thinking that gender matters – it’s all about skills and knowledge.” 

Jade

Female engineer in front of Western Power Distribution vanAssistant Planner Jade Eaton-Frati hopes her young daughter will grow up knowing gender is not a barrier.

Rising Star category: Former beauty therapist Jade Eaton-Frati had no experience of the electricity industry when she joined us as a Wayleaves Officer at Pegasus in 2017.

Soon after, she was appointed to the role of Craft Planner, based at Melton and then Spalding, before taking up her current role as Assistant Planner in the Spalding team.
Jade has recently passed her City and Guilds Level 2 in Engineering and Mathematics and plans to complete Level 3 in 2020.

She said: “The course will help me to advance my career but it will also allow me to be a role model to others and to show my three-year-old daughter that anything is possible and gender should not be a barrier.”

Jade regularly heads up site meetings with technicians and craft staff to discuss her plans for network reinforcements.

She added: “What I love about the job is that it keeps me on my toes. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, my aim is to prove that women are capable of completing the same tasks as men to a high standard and of showing leadership.

“I am proud of my achievements but they are also a credit to WPD for giving me this opportunity and hopefully inspiring other women.” 

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