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International Women in Engineering Day: Meet Justine Walker
At Mondelēz International - diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do. It's the focus of one of our values - being 'Open and Inclusive'. We know that it takes people from all ages., cultures and genders to bring delicious moments of joy to our consumers.
Wednesday, January 01, 2020
At Mondelēz International – diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do. It’s the focus of one of our values – being ‘Open and Inclusive’. We know that it takes people from all ages, cultures and genders to bring delicious moments of joy to our consumers.
In recognition of International Women in Engineering Day 2017 – we sat down with one of our project Engineers, Justine Walker, to discuss her experiences working for Mondelēz International.
Q: Please Introduce Yourself and Your Role at MDLZ
My name is Justine Walker and I’m currently in my second year on the UK&I Engineering Graduate Scheme. I’m working as a Project Engineer in Bern, Switzerland, for Toblerone, within the department responsible for Engineering projects. This includes investment in new pieces of equipment, upgrading existing equipment, and ensuring that the way equipment is selected, installed and trained to the Production team is efficient and smooth. This helps ensure that new systems work well and we continue to produce quality products.
Q: Why Did You Choose a Career in Engineering at MDLZ?
I knew upon graduation I wanted to work within the FMCG sector, and the graduate scheme which MDLZ offered encapsulated everything I wanted to develop within the beginning of my career. The food and drink industry provides really varied processes and equipment to work with, as well as many different challenges!
I’ve recently started my current placement in Bern, where we make Toblerone, after spending 15 months in Sheffield in the UK. While in the UK, I worked as a Team Leader within the Ritz Crisp & Thin line. This line is completely new to Sheffield, and is an incredibly exciting time for everyone. Being part of a team witnessing the installation and commissioning of a line, and being a part of the ramp up process to full production has helped me gain a completely new experience and all the learnings that go alongside. I have been supporting the team through their training, and utilizing a number of Integrated Lean 6 Sigma tools such as center lining machinery and equipment to help the line run at its best.
I think what makes MDLZ different from other FMCG companies is the culture. The people who form this organization are incredibly supportive, and help make this a great place to work. I have been able to explore many different routes for an engineer, and everyone has been incredibly accommodating in enabling me to do so.
Q: What has been the Highlight of Your Career to Date?
I’m still at an early stage of my career, but there are already a couple of experiences I’m proud of. Being able to successfully lead a team of 25 operators through daily production of a new line as a Team Leader in our Sheffield plant was an incredibly rewarding, and at times challenging, experience. I’m also experiencing another career highlight, having temporarily relocated to Switzerland for nine months to assist the Engineering team with a large installation. The opportunity for both personal and professional development is fantastic; I am in a new country, and challenging myself by managing various engineering aspects while learning a new language and adapting to a new culture.
Q: What Have You Learnt During Your Experience at Mondelez International so far?
I am always keen to learn, which is very important within Engineering as there are various specialist skills to develop. Throughout each of my roles, I’ve sought to learn more about my colleagues’ roles, so that when I inevitably need help with a task, I know who to go to for advice.
I have a very supportive Engineering Graduate Leadership Team who are mentoring and helping me to make the most of every opportunity. Within the Graduate Scheme, you’re placed in a role for a short time period so it’s important to hit the ground running and add value to each role as early as possible. That includes voicing and acting on your opinions and ideas from an early stage, and being confident to lead tasks.
To help me achieve this, I always try to ensure I have the right facts to explain my thoughts and ideas, by asking questions and carrying out my own research. When faced with daunting situations where I need to voice my ideas, I listen carefully to others and explain myself as clearly and concisely as possible. Within many Engineering disciplines, teamwork is key, and thus good communication is a must.
Q: How Does it Feel to be a Woman in Engineering?
I’m very aware of the time and effort others before me have given to get us to the stage where, as a woman, I can work as an equal in this position. I always make sure to treat everyone with respect, which in turn helps me to be treated in the same manner.
There used to be occasions when I would be very aware that I was the only woman in the meeting, but now, these things don’t bother me. Throughout studying and working I’ve always been within the minority gender, so I’m now used to this and rarely notice. Irrespective of gender, some people have a more jokey persona and some more serious, so I tailor my behavior and relationships accordingly.
Q: What Would Be Your Best Pieces of Advice You Would Give to Other Female Professionals?
I believe gender barriers are shifting. The same opportunities are available regardless of gender, and while it’s true that there are fewer females within this sector, and sometimes people may look surprised to see a young female within a stereotypical male industry, don’t feel you need to shy away from this. Be yourself; but also be aware of your environment. For example, if someone wants a concise answer, be concise. If you are due to present something, speak clearly and confidently. Act professionally, work hard, and you will gain the respect of your colleagues.
Q: And What About Those Currently Studying for a Career in Engineering?
Whatever sector you are interested in, make every effort to gain industrial experience in your chosen field while studying. Whether it is a year in industry (which I did), or a summer placement, having relevant experience prior to graduation will help you progress through a very competitive application process. Once industry experience is gained, you will have plenty of developmental experience to draw on in interviews, which will ultimately help you get the job in the first place! If you find yourself in a Manufacturing based role as myself, begin by shadowing operators. Listening is a key skill, and very important when you are early on in your career. If you charge straight in and start barking orders without fully understanding what is going on you risk alienating operators from the start.
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