Embracing change with Nina Smith
After years working as a senior support worker, Nina Smith saw an opportunity with Sky’s Women in Home Service programme. Currently, just 2% of Sky’s engineering workforce are female. The £2m programme is trying to raise that figure to 20% in 2 years, offering career development and training for 1000 women interested in a becoming an engineer at Sky.
In honour of International Women’s Day’s #BalanceforBetter campaign, we asked Nina about her experience working in male dominated industry. Embracing all the new challenges that come with a career change, she’s been a Sky home engineer for 9 months.
What does being a Sky engineer involve? Is there such thing as a ‘normal’ day at the ‘office’?
Being a sky home service engineer there is no such thing a typical day, even though we technically do the same thing when it comes to an install or the same checks when it comes to service calls. No job is ever the same, no house is ever the same. You’re continually learning new things with each job, which is one of the reasons the role is amazing.
“For anyone considering a career as an engineer, work hard, listen and implement the training.”
What drew you to a career in this sector? What’s your favourite thing about being an engineer?
I was looking for a new challenge and have always been quite handsy, enjoying things like gardening, building and DIY, so when I heard about the role and Sky’s women in home service programme, I jumped at the chance.
My favourite thing, I’m not sure I can single one thing out…however being out and about meeting people from all walks of life is a great part about the role, as well as complete job satisfaction. Oh, and you get to see some wonderful houses!
Is there a gender imbalance in your industry? If so, what do you think can be done about it? Does it even matter?
Yes, there is however Sky has been working hard to even out the playing field. The creation of the WiHS (Women in home service) programme has seen the number of women in the field increase from 2% to 10% in the first year. This is increasing every day however, a great start wouldn’t you say?
“I’ve had a few customers shocked when they answer the door to me, ‘a woman'”
Has being a woman in your role ever impacted you in anyway? Have you ever been treated differently by colleagues or customers? If so, how did you react?
I’d like to say that being a woman hasn’t impacted me in any way. The training provided has given me all the tools and resources I need to complete the job and the support around and within the team is excellent and everyone helps each other as and when needed.
I’ve had a few customers shocked when they answer the door to me, “a woman” but I’d say 99% of customers are pleasantly surprised and have nothing but nice comments such as lovely to see a woman doing this job. However, there has been one or two in which they have been openly condescending asking what I’m doing there or how am I going to be able to fix the issue. To which I usually laugh and say I can assure you I’ve all the skills needed to complete the task at hand. By the end they’re usually completely turned around and apologetic for their earlier comments.
Those jobs give a slightly higher satisfaction with being able to change people’s ideals in person.
What advice would you give to women and girls considering an engineering career?
Absolutely go for it! It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. For anyone considering a career as an engineer, work hard, listen and implement the training. Be open and willing to get things wrong at first to be able to get things right.
Most importantly enjoy it!
Nina’s experience goes to show that some big companies are trying to #BalanceforBetter, recognising the value a diverse workforce can bring to the business. Training initiatives like Sky’s Women In Home Service programmes help women step into a different career which have may not have otherwise been available to them.
The fact some people still find it shocking to open the door to a female engineer, or make assumptions about their competence based on gender show there’s still a way to go. But these outdated prejudices are being challenged daily by people like Nina who get the job done. Big thank you to Nina for sharing her experience with us and keep an eye out for the rest of our #BalanceforBetter series.
Learn more about International Women’s Day.