Elizabeth Morrison (Engineering Industrial Placement)
Stepping into the industrial working world has given Lizzie Morrison added confidence and numerous opportunities to develop her skills along the way.
Lizzie talks us through her time on placement at British Gypsum.
Why did you choose to do a placement at British Gypsum?
I have always had an interest in maths and science and I did well in them at school, so it made sense for me to continue this area of focus for my degree. I decided to study Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Leeds, partly because of the opportunity to complete a practical year in industry, as part of the course. I chose to do my placement at British Gypsum because the role involved commissioning a new mill, which was appealing to me as I knew it would be very practical, hands-on and a unique opportunity to be involved in. I think that my time here has opened my eyes to the real world of business, by allowing me to experience working life and develop my skills in an industrial setting.
What does your role involve?
I really enjoy the practical aspect of my role. I don’t just sit at my desk all day; I am always up and about in the plant, which is right next to the office. The main project I am involved in at the moment is around monitoring customer feedback and taking action to improve our processes, so it’s great to be making a difference in such a practical way.
What’s it like working at British Gypsum?
As this is my first proper industrial work experience, I was quite nervous when I first started. I soon settled in though because everybody is really friendly and happy to help. The work environment is very collaborative as there are only 18 people in my office, so it is quite a tight-knit group. Everybody is happy to chat and if I have a problem, I know that I can ask anyone, not just the manager that I report to. The team is very supportive and I’ve had on-going training to help me develop the skills I need for the different projects that I’m involved in. My manager is always open to suggestions and happy to facilitate any training that I need to help me progress.
What is the most valuable thing you have gained during your time at British Gypsum?
Being away from university for this year and immersing myself in the industrial working world has really improved my confidence. I have gained useful experience working with people across the company on numerous projects and tasks, which has required me to liaise with managers and employees across all different levels. I hope that I can take everything I have learned at British Gypsum and use it as a grounding for a successful career in engineering after I finish university.
What advice would you give to a young woman looking to study a STEM subject?
Although there is the perception that science and engineering careers are male-dominated, women are more than capable of excelling in these areas and there is so much support out there to help you achieve your goals. If you are thinking of studying a STEM subject, I would say to just do it. You will learn so much along the way and you never know where it could lead to – particularly with a company like Saint-Gobain, that has opportunities all around the world.