Rebekah Graham (Process Engineer)
Having joined us as a graduate, Rebekah Graham has gone on to flourish in her role as Process Engineer, taking on more responsibility and tackling new challenges every day.
We caught up with her to find out about her journey so far.
Tell us about your role at British Gypsum
I joined British Gypsum in June 2015 as a graduate. My role mainly focuses on process investigation and identifying opportunities for improvement. I am also involved in new product development, which involves commissioning new products, manufacturing recipes and processing systems. When I first started, I shadowed the Process Engineer in my department but now I have taken on my own line of work and gained more responsibility over time.
What route did you go down to end up in a STEM career?
I went to a local school in Penrith where I studied maths, chemistry, P.E and media. Admittedly, this was a bit of a random mix of subjects, as I was unsure of what I wanted to do when I left school. When it came to choosing a course at university, it was a toss up between media or a STEM subject. I opted for Chemical Engineering in the end because I enjoy problem solving and it’s turned out to be a good fit for me.
During my third year, a temporary role for a Process Engineer became available at British Gypsum. I didn’t know much about the company at all but my dad works here and he encouraged me to apply. I undertook a summer placement and it was a great opportunity for me to gain an initial understanding within a short space of time. They then offered me a graduate position for after I had completed my degree so it worked out really well.
What would you say to a young woman considering a STEM career?
I would say don’t be intimidated. If you are confident enough and aspire to do well in your career then there is nothing to stop you. You will learn a lot about yourself, your strengths and also where you can improve. From my own experiences at British Gypsum, I don’t feel like I am treated any differently to anyone else. The workforce is diverse and ultimately a very integrated and welcoming environment for everyone.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy problem solving so being able to investigate on-going issues on a daily basis is something that I thrive upon. I work with different types of people across the plant from Control Engineers right through to Operators. The nature of my job means that it’s not an individual effort, everything is very collaborative. So whether I am testing new processes or implementing new ideas, I need to engage with my colleagues regularly to find out the information I need.
How has the company supported you in your role?
I have been on several courses including Energy Optimisation and New Product Development which are designed to support me in my role. I was also flown out to Paris for a Process Engineers induction course, which was really insightful and a fantastic opportunity for me to network with other employees across the Saint-Gobain Group.
What is it like to work at the Kirkby Thore plant?
I have been at the Kirkby Thore plant for three years now as well as spending my summer placement here so I really do enjoy it. Everybody is very welcoming and happy to help. Some of the employees have been here for 35-40 years, so they have a lot of useful advice to share. I try to tap into that knowledge as often as I can because I think it’s good to be able to learn from their experience.
For more about Rebekah’s experiences as a graduate recruit with British Gypsum, watch this video: