Safety and Environmental Manager and former DE&S apprentice, Iona
Job title: Safety and Environmental Manager for Boats, in the Ships domain.
Firstly, can you tell us about your day-to-day role, what it involves, and what you enjoy most about it?
I’m responsible for providing assurance and governance of in-service boats as well as new acquisition boats, ensuring they are safe to operate and environmentally sound. This means that when they’re operated, they don’t present any clear impact or risk to the environment, such as pollution or disturbance of wildlife. This is achieved through compliance with current legislation and standards, and following due process and regulations as laid out by the Defence Safety Authority (DSA), Defence Maritime Regulator (DMR), and DE&S Ships Operating Centre.
I enjoy learning through safety and environmental courses – I feel like it really supports me in my day-to-day work. I also really enjoy going out to see equipment on site – I find that it’s really motivating to see the impact of my work first-hand.
Ensuring equipment is safe, to keep the military personnel who use it safe, makes my role really rewarding. My role also makes a positive impact for the armed forces by ensuring that there is a continued capability to meet UK defence requirements and international defence requirements (for example in supporting NATO or other allied organisations).
What was your pathway into this career?
I’ve always had an interest in engineering. I wasn’t sure what route to take, but I knew university wasn’t for me. When I finished school, I went to college and completed a two-year course in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. I researched engineering apprenticeships and came across DE&S. I started as an apprentice in 2017, worked in various teams – mainly engineering and also safety roles. I completed my apprenticeship in 2020 and re-graded into an engineering role. Most recently, I came across the opportunity to join an Acquisition Safety and Environmental Protection (ASEP) scheme, where I’m about to start a new journey!
What learning and development opportunities are available to you in your role?
There are so many courses you can sign up for. You can also apply for university and apprenticeship courses part-time while working, with funding from the organisation. There is training and support that you can access that’s tailored to your particular specialism. I’ve been on both internal and external courses relating to my role, which will really assist me in my development through DE&S. I’m also a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) – a world-leading professional body in this field – and I’ve been working towards Engineering Technician (EngTech) accreditation with them.
Do you feel supported to achieve your professional ambitions, and how?
100%! I’ve taken every opportunity that has come my way. The possibilities are endless if you put yourself out there. My colleagues are very helpful, and I always feel supported in whatever I choose to do.
How does DE&S support you to find the right balance between your work and home life?
For me, the flexible working hours are great and the option to work from home gives me that little bit of freedom. It’s really helpful, for example, if I need to drop my car off to the garage during working hours, I can move my hours flexibly to work around it. I also take half days on a Friday – I mean who doesn’t enjoy having a longer weekend?!
What’s it like being a woman engineer?
I’ve always been aware of the fact that women are underrepresented in the engineering profession. Sometimes I meet people who are surprised when I tell them I’ve taken this route. I hope I can help to address these stereotypes and inspire other women to become an engineer, because we could definitely do with more women in this industry.
Are you part of any colleague networks?
I’m a member of the Change Advocate Network, which has been set up to help the organisation work in a more agile way, challenging the norms and finding out ways to do things better. As part of the network, you meet new people from the wider organisation and feel empowered to make positive change.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I’ve recently started getting into reading again – I’m currently on The Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride. I also enjoy cycling… when the weather is warm anyway! Last year during the summer I signed up to ride from Bristol to Weston Super Mare and rode 57 miles!
Would you recommend DE&S to others as a great place to work, and if so, why?
Yes – there are lots of reasons why, such as remote working, flexible hours, site visits, and Defence Discount which means you get many offers for restaurants, theme parks, hotels and lots more. There are so many career opportunities available, and the support DE&S provide you with throughout is amazing.