This month, the ACR Journal interviewed Helen Jewell, Service Operations Manager at Accent Services (Air Conditioning), based in Sunbury-on-Thames.
English Literature at the Open University.
What was your first job?
My first job ever was at 15 years and 3 months, when I started work in a local chemist. My lovely grandad found me this Saturday job and I absolutely loved it.
Where do you work now?
Accent Services (Air Conditioning) Limited. We design, install, service and maintain all types of a/c units & Chillers. We are also largely involved in Cat A/B office refurbishments and all areas of HVAC.
What attracted you to the industry?
It was a total accident! Initially I was only temping but I found the job very engaging, even though I’m not technical. I was surprised by how much I picked up and enjoyed it. I’ve now been in the industry for over 15 years. I started as a co-ordinator and within 18 months I was promoted to Supervisor and then Service Manager. I’ve been able to implement many new systems and procedures which on the whole have gone down extremely well.
What do you specialise in now?
I manage the engineers and admin staff within the ever-expanding service department side of the business. When I joined Accent 10 years ago, there were only 8 engineers managed by myself and one of the directors. There are now 21 engineers and 6 of us managing this department. Our engineers are multi-skilled and are very talented individuals, who each offer their own particular expertise.
What excites/interests you about the industry?
The diversity and variety – every client has different requirements, every building is different. We look after many prestigious new and historic buildings and air conditioning is essential for a comfortable working environment.
There is also a lot of room for progression for people of all levels. We have an apprenticeship scheme here and I get a lot satisfaction out of seeing our apprentices’ progress to fully qualified senior chiller engineers. We invest heavily in training which puts us in good stead in our rapidly expanding business. Investment in people is key.
How do you see your career developing?
I genuinely love my job and the company I work for, and have enjoyed how it has developed over the last decade. I would like to see our department flourish even further and this in turn will increase all of our career opportunities.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
That you can’t control other people’s behaviour, but you can change how you react to them. This is great advice when faced with a challenging situation.
What are the challenges of this industry?
We’ve had a lot of challenges such as changes in legislation, competition, global warming, and now potentially Brexit which can often lead to opportunities. Companies need to adapt and grow with all of these changes, otherwise they will be left behind.
What are the benefits of being in your role?
Working with such friendly and skilled people, from suppliers, to staff, to customers. My role is extremely varied and no day is ever the same. It certainly keeps me on my toes!
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?
To not be put off that this industry is currently predominantly staffed by men. It’s a fantastic career whatever your age or gender. Men and women think and work differently, and all ways are beneficial. At the end of the day, the start doesn’t matter, it’s how you finish.
Are you a candidate for our Women in ACR feature? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact David Todd, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01778 392094.