Women in ACR: Hayley Cattell of Dean & Wood

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Published: 19 August 2020


Hayley Cattell with the 2019 National ACR & HP Refrigeration Product of the Year Award for Cubo2 Smart

Hayley Cattell is Business Director of wholesaler Dean & Wood. Here, she talks about her route to the role.

I officially joined the industry at the age of 23, working within the marketing team at Dean & Wood’s head office in Leeds. My main driver at the time was to promote the business’s three core competences, Distribution, Technical and Sales, to the industry with the support of some key supplier partners. I also had the brief to increase Dean & Wood’s brand awareness by promoting the themes for a ‘Face Of’ campaign. Part of this is still used today within the company strap line ‘Dean & Wood the face of refrigeration and air conditioning wholesale’. During this time I completed the Beijer Ref UK internal ‘Introduction to Refrigeration’ training course and passed the final ‘test’ with a score of 20 out of 20 first time.

I felt like a duck to water within the industry and it was clear to me that I wanted to pursue a career in refrigeration and air conditioning. From what industry knowledge I had, the wholesaler route seemed an ideal vehicle to drive.    

After a year in marketing I applied for and was successful in getting a job as Trainee Sales Engineer working for the Leeds branch. The Sales Engineer training programme is as intense as you want to make it and can take up to two years to get through. I had to pass qualifications in refrigeration before I could drop ‘Trainee’ from my job title and become a Sales Engineer. These included:

  • Safe handling of refrigerants (J11-F gas)
  • City & Guilds Level 2 in small commercial refrigeration and air conditioning 
  • Pipework & Brazing – commercial 

During this training I also wanted to experience what it was like working for a contractor. Dean & Wood partnered with a supermarket retail customer and I worked ‘hands on’ in a live environment assisting the service engineer in her day-to-day role. This was a real eye opener for me and without doubt has helped me progress my career by understanding what is on both sides of any given fence. This has enabled me to make quick decisions without having a one-sided approach.



Project team
Our parent company, Beijer Ref, seconded me to the refrigeration wholesaler Kylma, Stockholm, Sweden in 2011 to work alongside their technical and sales engineers. I headed a supply chain project to decide which refrigerant recovery machine would be most suitable for the Beijer Ref group to sell. I carried out a vendor and product rating and covered all design and marketing. This resulted at the time in all Beijer Ref businesses taking the product on board. 

On returning to the UK I decided to transfer from Leeds to an open vacancy as Sales Engineer for Newcastle. At a similar time I was asked in to join a project team of six to analyse the UK market for packaged condensing units and make an evaluation on the current product range within the company portfolio. This was a six-month project which concluded with me being spokeswoman for the group and presenting our selected options and recommendation to the board of directors.

During my two years in Newcastle I joined the Institute of Refrigeration Northern Branch. It was my personal task to encourage new blood into the IOR and I started a successful companywide national campaign to do this. It meant marketing the benefits of joining the IOR through the Dean & Wood national branch network. This involvement with the IOR progressed to me joining the London Dinner committee and also the membership selection committee.

My learning continued when I was seconded to the LU-VE manufacturing plant in Italy and subsequently I was to oversee the LU-VE brand recognition within Dean & Wood.
I was then promoted to Branch Manager of Dean & Wood Birmingham where I learnt both hands on and theoretical operation management.

Motherhood then called and I now have two gorgeous boys, Joey and Archie. 

Biggest challenge
On returning full time to the industry, I became the Product Manager for Beijer Ref with my biggest challenge to date. This was to raise the awareness of the use of natural refrigerants in the commercial market and in particular to launch the Cubo2 Smart C02 packaged condensing unit range to contractors who were not too familiar with C02. Retail supermarket and industrial contractors were the main customers installing and servicing systems using natural refrigerants. It was my task to widen the net and to remove the mystique surrounding C02. All my previous roles had been challenging, but this was the toughest yet. There was - and still is to a degree - a need for medium and long term refrigerant solutions as we move through the phasedown. I often wonder to this day what our industry would be like if we had continued to use C02 as a refrigerant as we did in the 1850s. I received recognition for this work with an article published by the United Nations Environmental Programme.

Still overseeing the introduction of natural refrigerants, I joined the Beijer Ref wholesaler HRP as the Northern Regional Sales Manager. During this time, I completed two intensive leadership training programmes - Inspirational Leadership and Ultimate Leadership - where I gained invaluable skills. A lot of travel but so much reward too. In sales you simply get out what you put in.

In March 2020 I was promoted to head the Dean & Wood business as Business Director. I am bursting with ideas to promote this business and its services. Watch this space!

I love this industry and the opportunities every new day brings. It can be viewed by women as a male dominated and a bit boring. To that I say get amongst it ladies and then make that call in a year’s time, you won’t be disappointed.