ACR Journal talks to senior sales and applications engineer Lisa-Jayne Cook, a member of the Women in RACHP steering committee, who recently moved from Aqua Group to J&E Hall.
What was your first job?
My first job was secured through Fareport Training, an apprenticeship/work placement training organisation. I was placed as an office junior/sales support at Bonwyke. This was my introduction into the world of building services, with a leading UK wholesaler and installer of protective window film. It was here that I built the foundations for my future career, completing my modern apprenticeships in Information Technology and Customer Services.
Predominantly sales and design with some project management, too. Aqua Group offers bespoke chilled water systems for process cooling, which encompasses a wide range of applications from plastic moulding processes to MRI scanners. As a sales and applications engineer I am responsible for managing the project from conception to delivery. This includes establishing contact with the customer, carrying out site surveys, selection of cooling equipment, design of associated pipework and controls, creation of system schematics and technical documents as well as co-ordination of labour and sub-contractors.
What attracted you to the industry?
RACHP isn’t the career I dreamt of while in education (I had aspirations of a life in classical music), but a path I’m glad I chose to follow. I’d seen a role for a draughtsperson advertised at Heating and Cooling Coils but didn’t have any experience in engineering or technical drawing. With some words of encouragement from my mum and the promise of some technical drawing lessons (she was a draughtsperson with an electrical engineering team) I applied, and thankfully they took a chance on me. That was the start of a career that has spanned 19 years, in an industry that I am very passionate about.
What excites/interests you about the industry?
The RACHP world is constantly evolving, and as such is one that requires active engagement to keep up with technology. Every day is exciting in its own way. Even after all these years I am still finding technical, commercial and application challenges that really require some thought and consideration.
Being able to genuinely make an impact on businesses and the environment through energy savings, and to be involved in innovative processes and products, both at Aqua Group and with clients, was truly rewarding. I feel very privileged to work with many passionate individuals who care about the impact of their decisions. RACHP is a fervent, caring and collaborative industry.
How would you like to see your career developing?
I hope to move into a more senior role in the future where I can share the knowledge and experiences I have gained over the last 19 years. To continue the good work the Women in RACHP group is doing by engaging with young engineers and helping them to develop in both their professional and personal capacities. I also hope to continue to be an ambassador to female engineers, particularly in our industry, and to help develop new schemes and incentives to encourage young people into engineering.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
To be honest! Take ownership of your mistakes and be responsible for correcting them. Never be afraid to ask for help and guidance; we can only grow personally and professionally by constantly striving to better ourselves.
What do you see as the challenges facing the industry?
In a world where the environment and sustainability is of ever growing concern the real challenge is engaging with governments, manufacturers and end users on a global scale. To educate on the impact our industry is having when poor choices are made and to prove the desired results can be achieved with the best possible outcome for our planet. We must continue to innovate and develop products, processes and systems that reduce our carbon footprint and minimise ozone depletion.
Other than the environment and our attitude towards it, another big challenge is in the developing world. We need to support, invest and guide developing countries to a better future, where food waste can be reduced, living conditions can be improved and the advances in medicine we are so lucky to benefit from can be shared with them too.
We are seeing a change in attitudes towards energy consumption and its impact on resources, global warming and the environment in general, but there is still a long way to go. We must continue to promote investment in green initiatives and to look to the next generation for fresh ideas and to acknowledge the concerns they have for the future.
What are the best things about being in your role?
The variety of applications we get involved in keeps the role interesting. There are so many opportunities to learn new applications and processes, meaning there is very little time to get bored. Every day really is a school day.
Another benefit is having the opportunity to be involved in ground-breaking projects and to work with some of the country’s most inspiring engineers.
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?
There has never been a better time to join our industry for women. It hasn’t always been this way, but we are an industry that promotes inclusion and is proud to boast some very progressive thinkers. The number of women in the industry is growing rapidly, and with our combined forces we can continue to improve our working environment and nurture each other for the benefit of all.
- The IOR’s Women in RACHP network, established with the support of the ACR Journal in 2016, now has more than 600 members. It is open to anyone (male or female) working in an RACHP-related role. You do not have to be an IOR member. You can get involved through the Women in RACHP LinkedIn group.