Sam Ingram (Mill Operator, Kirkby Thore)
From mucking out stables to pitching in at the mill, Sam’s day-to-day tasks have changed rather a lot since joining British Gypsum but the opportunities for a hands-on role are certainly the same.
Here, she gives us the low-down on what it’s really like changing careers and stepping into a traditionally ‘male’ working environment.
Tell us a bit about your journey so far
I’ve been at British Gypsum since March 2016 and this is my first role in manufacturing. I work in the mill, handling chemicals and keeping the production line running – mainly working on drywall products.
Before that I worked with horses so I was used to being in a very active role and when I decided it was time for a career change, I knew that it had to be a hands-on job. My fiancé works in a concrete business and I always found that interesting, so when the position came up at British Gypsum I applied for it straight away.
What was it like starting a completely new type of role?
It’s quite a big change from being in the stables but I’ve really enjoyed it and think I adapted quickly. When I found out exactly what I’d be working on, I looked up all the different products and found out as much as I could and it’s been fascinating learning about how the different chemicals affect each other and change things like the setting and drying times of the plaster.
The induction process lasted for a week and was really in-depth. Then when I did eventually start out on the production floor, I was partnered up with a very experienced colleague who watched over me until I was 100% confident in what I was doing.
Manufacturing is sometimes seen as being rather male-dominated, what has your experience of this been like?
Honestly, my initial reaction when my fiancé first showed me the job vacancy was: “but that’s a man’s job!” Despite that, I was still really keen and I’m so glad that I didn’t let my initial assumptions get in the way. I had expected that being one of the first female workers to take up that sort of role, I would have to really prove myself but it’s just not been the case at all.
My preconceptions were totally wrong about what the environment might be like but I’ve just been treated as one of the team since day one – there’s been no difference at all. So if anyone is thinking about a move like this and is unsure, I would just say go for it!
How has your career developed since joining British Gypsum?
One of the biggest things I’ve realised since joining is how many opportunities there are to progress in your career, as it’s such a big company with so many different types of role. I’m already progressing to work with the mixers, which is the next stage up from my position.
The other main difference is that my work/life balance is much better now. I was self-employed before and therefore didn’t really have many days off. Now that I work a regular shift pattern, I have more time to spend with my fiancé and son.