Lisa Pogson, Airmaster
|This month, the ACR Journal interviews Lisa Pogson, Resources Director at Airmaster.
Tell me about your background and education:
After leaving school at 16, with a handful of GCSE’s, I earned an HNC in Business Studies at Rotherham College and subsequently, a Masters Degree in Management Resources from the University of Hull as a mature student.
What are the details of your current employer?
Airmaster is a leading mechanical engineering services company which designs, manufactures on-site, installs and maintains bespoke, energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems for most market sectors across the UK.
What attracted you to the industry?
I joined Airmaster in 1995, having previously worked in the building industry. Initially, I worked in a part-time capacity to help out my future brother in law Richard (our MD) with admin and bookkeeping. As business and staff numbers grew, I took on a full-time role. The diverse range of contracts that we were working on, particularly in the service and maintenance sector fascinated me.
What do you specialise in now and what types of projects do you work on?
I specialise in managing finance, HR, and internal operations, whilst being involved in overseeing customer service, and expanding our networks. We are currently undertaking ISO 9001 and 14001 certification and I recently spearheaded an investment in technological innovation and IT infrastructure that included replacing engineers’ hand-written job sheets with iPads.
This saved money by massively reducing the time required to implement design changes between clients and the designer, and also resulted in a significant surge in the level of our customer service.
What do you know now about the industry you wish you had known before?
I now understand that there is a whole science behind workspace planning. Thermodynamics is a fascinating subject. The importance and impact of natural light and ventilation on staff morale and services within a building cannot be overvalued.
Air conditioning doesn’t have to be expensive and can actually be an efficient heating and cooling system if installed and used properly. However, it is integral to understand how all your building services work to help save energy and create a comfortable work environment to keep your staff happy.
What excites and interests you about the industry?
It is intriguing to see the way that the industry is responding to new technology and changes in refrigerants. I recently visited a Daikin factory in Plzen, Czech Republic and saw the production line first hand. The factory was so clean, tidy and organised, and really showcased how technology can complement efficient production. The construction industry’s continuing embracement of BIM is also very exciting, bringing flux and the need to constantly upskill.
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?
I would tell them to aim high and not accept regressive gender roles within employment. This year we are holding an International Women’s Day event in Sheffield City Region with the ATHENA award being sponsored by Airmaster.
Culture is key to how a business will change and we need to be part of that. I am not keen on gender quotas to achieve this – women can be on boards on their own merit, they just need confidence and mentoring. Inspiring the next generation of women within this industry is one of my prime passions. I am President-Elect at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber and involved in the Chamber’s Women in Business group.
I am also really proud to be a STEM ambassador, working with local schools and colleges to keep encouraging children into STEM subjects in school and university.
Where do you see your career developing?
Airmaster has witnessed substantial growth in recent years and have put some succession planning in place, with our Operations Director, Mark Staniland, and I planning to take the role of Joint MD later in the year. We are looking forward to opening a new chapter at Airmaster. In 2017, Airmaster celebrates its Silver Anniversary – 25 years in business.
What are the challenges in this industry?
One of the biggest challenges for the industry is to continue to strive to provide technologically innovative air conditioning systems that are also ecologically sound. We promote energy efficiency through initiatives and services such as TM44 air conditioning energy assessments, expert advice on FGas compliance and close control air conditioning.
Airmaster has won the EcoStars award at Level 3 with plans already in place to achieve level 5. We are also part of the Sustainability School, which promotes a sustainable supply chain. Therefore, we only work with suppliers and manufacturers who have sustainability in mind such as the Carbon Trust accredited, Daikin UK.
What are the benefits of being in your role?
One of the major benefits of my role at Airmaster is the opportunity it enables me to aid and witness the professional and personal development of our staff. I am passionate about affecting positive change in young people’s careers. I want to ensure they become more employable and entrepreneurial - particularly those young people who may not have had many chances in life.
I have led apprenticeships and developed colleagues to management positions. In fact, almost every employee at Airmaster and all senior managers started off in the industry as apprentices.