“My all-girls school never encouraged us to do engineering” | We interviewed Helena Simmonds, Innovation Manager, WMG
Helena Simmonds tells us about becoming an accomplished engineer in manufacturing, and her love of tennis. Interviewed by Charlie Ward, Marketing and Communications Executive.
Helena, what do you consider to be your specialism?
I have always worked in manufacturing, but over recent years I’ve specialised in composites manufacturing. In my current role, I’m looking at sustainable manufacturing which has been hugely interesting and I’ve really enjoyed this new angle to everything I do.
How did you end up where you are?
When I was at school and we had careers days they never really mentioned engineering or manufacturing. It was an all-girls school, and if you liked science you’d get encouraged to be a doctor, which wasn’t something I was interested in. I went to do material science at university because it covered a range of disciplines. I think it’s really important to get more women in engineering.
After I completed my degree I joined a graduate scheme. They had divisions and I’d applied for engineering but they diverted me to manufacturing – which I’m glad they did because it really suited me. When I moved back to the Midlands and came to work at WMG it was my ideal role, research mixed with helping businesses.
What’s been your favourite job role?
I really enjoyed being a tennis coach! But I think it has to be when I was a production supervisor. It was really intense, but I got to see the product being made and the great team spirit. It was the best start to my career. It was tough but really helped me..
What hobbies do you have that keep you going outside work?
I enjoy tennis (especially matches), hiking and being outdoors, reading books, and doing martial arts with my son! During lockdown, I’ve taken up yoga too.
At work, when are you happiest?
I’m happiest when I’m organising the SPIN events because I get to combine my technical background with people and events. I also get to learn about new topics and speak to a range of experts in different fields.
What keeps you at WMG?
It’s a flexible and varied role. The industry people and processes are always different in each project so I’m always learning!