FOCUS ON WOMEN IN STEM: SAMANTHA GEAR, PLANT MANAGER, WINTON ENGINEERING

 

Have you always wanted to work for an engineering company?

 

No. I was initially trained to work in the hospitality industry and had also worked for a bank for a number of years. After I returned to work from having my son, I joined a leasing company to procure commercial fleets for utility companies and emergency services, from light commercial vans to bigger trucks. As part of managing those contracts, I was also involved with customer account management and whole life cost and maintenance of the fleet.

 

I’d worked with Winton Engineering during this time to convert some of the fleets I was managing, so when I was made redundant from the leasing company, I made the jump to work for them. I was initially only going to work at Winton for six weeks, but I liked it so much that 13 years later, I’m still here!

 

What skills have you been able to transfer from your previous job to your current role at Winton?

 

Having worked on the client side, I appreciate what our customers are looking for and can communicate that to our designers and engineers to find the right solution for customers. At the same time, understanding their perspective allows me to have an honest conversation with them to offer alternative solutions if we can’t exactly meet their needs.

 

I’ve also applied the commercial acumen I got from my previous role to being a Plant Manager at Winton – it’s about getting the optimum balance between engineering and design excellence, and what’s actually needed, and making sure that this goal doesn’t get lost in the process.

 

How have you acquired the engineering knowledge required for your current role, and what has helped you along that journey?  

 

As Winton’s business changed, I got more involved in the company. Being a smaller organisation, I’ve been able to get stuck into different roles over the years, from managing service engineers to production to the financial accounts. The variety really helped me to pick up more and more knowledge along the way, which has given me a solid grounding to now manage the technical, production and design teams as the Plant Manager.

 

I might not be the one coming up with the right technical answers, but as the company’s Plant Manager, it’s important to ask the right questions and challenge our engineers and designers when necessary-even if it means changing the status quo.

 

What advice would you give to someone who would like to become a Plant Manager without formal engineering training?

 

If you get the opportunity to work in a variety of different roles as I have at Winton, take it! Don’t be afraid of hard work, have a steely determination, and be open to learning.

 

What difference would it make to your industry if more girls took an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) related subjects and careers?

 

There’re so many exciting developments in the automotive and fleet management industry, such as the adoption of cleaner vehicles and the use of data to give us better insights into fleet operations on the road. But for companies to fully reap the benefits from these developments, we will need the people with the right skills now and well into the future. If we want to widen the pool of talent, we have to encourage more girls into STEM careers. There’s a lot being done to encourage more girls into these subjects at school, so we have to continue dispelling the myth that science and engineering are ‘jobs for the boys’ from grass roots up.

 

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