“What makes me proud is contributing to the Civil Service and to the security of the country, helping ensure that ships are safe for our Armed Forces to use.”
Job title: System Safety and Environmental Officer
Firstly, can you tell us about your role and what it entails?
I work in the Ships domain, helping to manage safety and environmental artefacts. I’m responsible for gathering information from programmes to ensure actions regarding safety and environment are completed.
I review documentation to make sure it’s in good order, and contribute to hazard reviews to establish where hazards are applicable and whether there are any mitigations needed. I run the Hazard Log, providing advice from a safety perspective, and I’m involved in a range of working groups outside of my day-to-day role.
I’m currently working with teams across the domain to roll out new standards as they’re released, which gives me a real sense of making an impact.
What was your career path?
I graduated with a master’s degree in Analytical and Forensic Science in 2014 and worked for a company that specialised in threat detection and security screening technologies, for example for airport security. After four or five years, I moved to Bristol and worked in quality assurance for a pharmaceutical company. Even though that experience was in a different industry, I’d always been involved in quality control, which is very process driven and required a lot of attention to detail, and that allowed me to gain really important transferable skills.
I saw this role and applied for it as I felt it was very similar in terms of the focus on process, and the work was office based instead of lab based, and I was keen for that change. I joined DE&S at the end of January 2020 and I’m really enjoying the role and the opportunities I’ve been given.
How does DE&S support your development?
Currently, I’m studying part-time for a master’s degree in Environmental Management at University of the West of England (UWE). It’s funded by DE&S and I’m allocated study time within work hours. This will help me develop in this specialism and provide me with the foundations to progress into more environmental-based roles.
DE&S understands that the skills and experience gained through my qualifications is important to the organisation and they’re really supportive. The course also encourages me to reach out to wider teams to find the information I need, which opens up new internal networking opportunities. Like everyone else who works here, I also have a Functional Development Officer who is someone assigned to support me in my development throughout my career here.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
For me, the reward in this job is the stability it offers and the opportunities to grow that are available. In other organisations, opportunities can run out and you find yourself stuck in the same role, however I feel that DE&S has a good reputation for giving people the chance to move around within the organisation to gain more experience and learn new things. It’s one of the reasons I’m interested in the Environmental Management course, because it will give me transferable knowledge that I can apply in the Ships domain, but that would be equally valuable in the Air and Land domains if I were to explore growing my career in one of those areas down the line.
Engineering is recognised to be a male-dominated sector. What advice would you give to a female engineer who’s considering joining DE&S?
Be confident to speak up. If you know what you’re talking about, then stand up for it. Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to challenge norms, for example if a concept is outdated. Be confident to try something new. I can find meetings with suppliers quite daunting sometimes because of the gender imbalance, however there have been occasions where I’ve needed to challenge stakeholders and, at DE&S, I’m encouraged and supported to do that.
Do you feel you’re empowered to be innovative in your team?
Yes, I do. When I joined the Safety team, I used my initiative to make improvements to our ways of working and restructured our Cloud-based documents to give action logs better visibility. I’ve also created information packs and new starter packs. Every couple of weeks, I provide useful information and updates to project teams. This allows different teams to find the information that’s relevant to them more easily. I’m empowered to find new and better ways of doing things and make a personal impact.
How are you supported to manage your work-life balance?
I enjoy hybrid working – being able to work from home and in the office. In my team, we’re able to find the right balance for us and, as long as we work our core hours, our leaders are happy for our team to work flexibly.
Are you involved in any networks or teams?
I’m a member of the Abbey Wood women’s rugby team. There has been less activity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and with fewer women playing on our team currently we’re encouraged to train with the men’s team which I think is great. Although there are some differences in how we play, the skills are all the same.
What makes you proud to work at DE&S?
What makes me proud is contributing to the Civil Service and to the security of the country, helping ensure that ships are safe for our Armed Forces to use.