Q&A with Hannah Hargreaves: Supporting Women in Engineering

Hannah Gorman (formerly Hargreaves) is flying the flag for women in engineering. Working in a male-dominated industry, Hannah often sees surprised faces when a woman turns up rather than man that they were expecting. Hannah is passionate about more females coming into the engineering sector and shares her experiences with #YesSheCan.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I joined what is now Openreach in 2012 – I was a trainer for a while and then went on to deal with high-level complaints before having my little girl in 2016. I came back from maternity a whole different person and I wanted a new career – one my daughter could be proud of. I applied for Openreach and here I am now. It felt natural to progress from dealing with calls about faults and installs to actually working on the frontline. I completed a year’s training and an apprenticeship now so I’m ‘fully fledged’.

Can you tell us more about how you overcame any setbacks?

I’ve not had many setbacks along the way but I’ve had instances where people weren’t comfortable with a female drilling through their walls. I’ve always been great with customers so I explained the training I’ve had and what equipment I’d be using and tried to gently change their views on females in our sector. I’m passionate about more females coming into the engineering sector as I feel it’s important to change the shock factor customers get when a female turns up. I’m also really passionate about being open about mental health – I think we don’t talk enough and in a male-dominated industry I think it’s really important we get everyone to open up.

What are your key motivators?

My main motivator is customers and making people happy. I always put myself in a customer’s shoes and I feel invested in every job that I do. That gives me the determination to succeed in each job.

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?

Let it go. I had this tattooed to my wrist before frozen – It’s now covered by the way! I think it’s a huge lesson and one you get better at as you get older. Things will get in your way, you won’t always get what you want, not everyone will like you but let it go. I’m much happier for it when I let it go.

What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?

– Be brave
– Do something you love
– Always be kind

Who is one woman who has impacted your life?

Alison Cooper – I’m going with someone who has positively impacted my life recently. Alison is a GM for Openreach but she always makes time for me. She talks me through anything I worry about and guides me in the right direction. I think it’s hugely important when starting a career in a male-dominated environment to have a good mentor.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

Leadership isn’t always about managing people. Strong leadership is inspiring others. You may be a leader without even knowing it. I’ve learned that leadership is not about telling people what to do – it is all about inspiring others. Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?

I’d say to support each other is the best thing we can do. Build each other up and be there for each other. Also, I’d say to shout about yourself – tell people who you are and what you are doing. Aim to get to the stage where you no longer have to introduce yourself.
You can find and follow Hannah on LinkedIn to follow her journey.
If you enjoyed reading about Hannah Hargreaves supporting women in engineering, you’ll love reading about Danielle Wedelle, a female leader in Construction.

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