This month's 'Women in ACR' interviewee is Joanna Robinson, Managing Director of Mansfield Pollard, the Bradford-based air movement and acoustic control solutions manufacturer.
Where did you study?
I attended Park Lane College, Leeds where I completed my GCSE’s and a BTEC National Diploma in Business and Finance. I excelled in the accountancy module of the course, decided on a career as an accountancy and became a trainee accountant.
Continuing personal development is very important to me. Today my development continues via a personal mentoring program, leadership courses and my participation in a group which aims to improve the effectiveness of business leaders. The group brings together successful MDs, CEOs, executives and business owners to encourage better leadership.
Tell us about your membership of industry associations and the benefits from being part of them for you.
B&ES is the UK's leading professional body for building engineering services contractors. Part of our role is to develop specifications for the industry such as DW144 and DW172. The group adds real value to member’s businesses by providing quality services, promoting excellence and shaping the commercial environment through representation and leadership. Mansfield Pollard shares each of these principals and they are reflected in the running of the company.
Details of current employer
These are delivered to a wide range of UK and international customers working in sectors as diverse as health care, pharmaceutical production, leisure, retail and education. The business is proud of its focus on innovation as demonstrated by the technical capabilities of its products and its relentless approach to creating value for its customers.
Mansfield Pollard has a clear vision for its future and strategies in place which are underpinning its delivery. These include the development of its own capabilities through investment in learning and development with every employee having the opportunity to benefit from personalised training initiatives.
We endeavour to create a professional but fun place to work and we concentrate on nurturing and developing staff to succeed and to realise their full potential.
What attracted you to the industry?
"As soon as I started at Mansfield Pollard my eyes were opened to a diverse and creative industry."
Prior to joining Mansfield Pollard my understanding of the HVAC and manufacturing industries was nearly non-existent, so it is safe to say that it was a stroke of good luck that I had an opportunity to develop my career within it!
As soon as I started at Mansfield Pollard my eyes were opened to a diverse and creative industry which impacts the majority of people’s lives through the creation of safe and comfortable environments.
What do you specialise in now? Or, what type of projects do you work on
The bespoke nature of the solutions which we create means that we work on a diverse range of projects. One of core areas of strength is in the healthcare sector where, as you might expect, standards are extremely high and where there is a robust regulatory environment. We’ve also delivered projects for global pharmaceutical brands, luxury car makers and the aerospace industry as well as major retail, leisure and commercial developments.
What do you know now about the industry which you wished you had known before?
To raise awareness we continue to promote the industry in schools and to young people more generally. We work together to explain that our profession works with cutting edge technologies and has excellent career prospects in an expanding market, for men and women alike. Manufacturing offers a long term career path and exciting and challenging work on a diverse range of projects.
We need to highlight the opportunities available to young people as engineers are desperately needed to fill the skills gap.
What excites/interests you about the industry and your part in it now?
Being a women in what has traditionally been a male dominated environment has proved that detailed engineering knowledge is not essential to succeed as a business leader. A major part of my role is to educate and inspire and I enjoy giving motivational speeches, especially to the next generation of engineers. The most recent was for a ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) event which showcased opportunities available to young women in these industries.
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?
The industry can provide a long term career in a diverse and exciting sector where you will be welcomed and encouraged to succeed. Research shows that only 7 per cent of the engineering sector work force is female. I want to promote the fact that through hard work and determination you can progress through the ranks and make a difference in business.
Diversity within a workplace is essential for the wellbeing of a business and the different ways women approach issues adds to the flexibility and resourcefulness of an organisation.
Where do you see your career developing?
To resolve this problem we are working closely with Bradford District Council – which has developing skills at the top of its agenda – and it is already showing results. The latest two additions to the Mansfield Pollard design team are BEng and HND graduates from Bradford College which has been actively involved in the city wide skills initiative.
We will continue to carry the message into schools and colleges that manufacturing offers a well-paid and varied career in an environment where entrants no longer have to start out in overalls on a factory floor. The other principle challenge is that of continued innovation. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of our customers and in particular to develop ever more energy efficient solutions for them. In this way we contribute to increased efficiencies, diminished operating costs and reducing carbon footprints.
What are the benefits of being in your role?
We have built a culture based on customer focus, quality, integrity, innovation and a fun environment. Strong friendships have been forged and everyone is supportive of one another when the pressure is on. As one of the few women in my industry, I believe that I have a responsibility to promote career opportunities for both sexes and in particular I hope that my example inspires other women to choose to pursue careers within the HVAC industry.