Financial services to Schneider Electric engineer: Sallys journey

Financial services to Schneider Electric engineer: Sally's journey

 October 02, 2019

Sally McLaughlin is a Field Services Development Engineer with Schneider Electric. She started her working life in Financial Services back in the early 1990s, before moving into the world of energy and electric engineering after a career break. 

"I think it would be fair to say that I had a short but meteoric career which came to an end when I had my three children. Having had a career break of 15 years, it was challenging to say the least to re-enter the work place. No matter how successful I might have been in the past getting employers to see past the 'stay at home Mum' role proved extremely difficult," says Sally.

"I entered the world of energy and electrical engineering more by accident than design and it is where I have been for the past five years. I would not have thought it possible for someone like myself who certainly does not have prior knowledge of the industry to be successful.  However, it is possible. I would counsel fellow mothers returning to work not to be put off by the word 'engineering'. Looking after your customers needs does not require a technical knowledge and with a company like Schneider you will be given the support you need to gain the confidence required to succeed."

In the following interview, Where Women Work delves further into Sally's career and experiences working with prime employer, Schneider Electric.

What interests you in your role and how has your position developed in Schneider Electric?

Putting the customer first is at the heart of what I do and is what makes my job so rewarding.  Understanding the implications for the customer if we fail to deliver on our commitments focuses the mind. I look after customers in both the banking and finance sector and healthcare. In a financial institution a power outage can result in the loss of billions of dollars and in a Hospital, loss of life. The service delivered by Schneider is essential for the wheel of operations managed by my customers. I joined Schneider two years ago in the role of V2 Sales Engineer for Field Services. I am still in that role today and am still learning every day.

Sally McLaughlin working with Schneider Electric

What's a big challenge for you right now?

Ensuring that we as a company deliver on the promises that we have made to the Customer.

How would you explain your job to people not from your industry? 

Keeping the lights on! On a personal basis I am measured on the value of sales that I bring in; however, I see my job as that of an Account Manager. Understanding the needs of the client and meeting them, whether that be by bringing new product and service solutions to their attention or by ensuring that any interactions that they have with Schneider are responded to in a timely and efficient manner. Though I wear a 'Field Services' hat, I am able to navigate the internal functions that exist within SE in terms of the different businesses to make sure that whatever the customer query is, it is dealt with efficiently.

How has Schneider Electric supported you?

Schneider Electric has supported me by seeing my potential and employing me, despite my not having an engineering background and limited technical knowledge.

Who else has supported you, been a guide or role model? 

I have been very fortunate in that I have been unofficially mentored by several individuals who have very different skill sets and approaches. This has enabled me to benefit by seeing how these variances can be applied and utilised in differing scenarios. They are all lovely people and having good relationships with one’s colleagues is what makes coming to work fun!

What makes it exciting working in Schneider Electric's industry?

Life today – truly is ON (as we say at Schneider!). All the technological advancements that we are now so dependent upon – all fall over if the power goes down. Being at the heart of an industry which is fuelling all of the things that we use on a day to day basis in an exciting place to be.

What's impressive about Schneider Electric in terms of its people, culture, work and opportunities?

Working for an organisation which is regularly congratulating people for 20,30 and 40 plus years continuous service is truly impressive. I am early on in my Schneider journey but hope to be here for many years to come.  

The systems and processes in place to support employees in their career progression is exceptional. There are many benefits in place for employees which are easily accessible, from the company Share Incentive Scheme to Perks at Work (a shopping discount tool), Step Up Rewards (a colleague recognition reward scheme) to mental health support.

Sally McLaughlin engineer Schneider Electric

How can progression of female careers be supported across Schneider Electric?

I think that this is something that is already well underway. Admittedly, particularly in the sales environment, women are still few and far between – but for those of us that are already here, I believe that we would unanimously agree that we are actively being encouraged and assisted to progress.

How does Schneider Electric promote and support a flexible working culture, and how does this relate to you?

My position is categorised as 'Travelling Appointment', enabling me with the flexibility to manage my working day to ensure I deliver my goals and more importantly meet the needs of the customer. As such I have no specific office that I am tied to. The vast majority of my time I am out visiting clients at their sites, however, if I do have a day with no meetings I am able to work from home thus removing travel time which is good for Schneider and for me.

What advice would you give to your 'younger self'?

I am not sure that I was very good at taking advice when I was younger as I probably thought I had all the answers! But if I was to catch my younger self in an unguarded moment I would tell myself: Be a positive influence on those around you in anyway that you can. Even simple little helpful acts can make others – and you – much happier.

Sally McLaughlin Schneider Electric event

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Self-perception is a peculiar thing. I hope that others would describe me as kind, funny and tolerant (though I think I might be a bit optimistic with the tolerant!). Myself in three words:  organised, energetic and tenacious.

What's the best piece of career advice you've been given and why is it relevant at Schneider Electric? 

The best bit of advice that I have ever had, was given to me by my grandmother. She told me that the most powerful tool is to be surrounded by people who want to help you. So, the advice was to ensure that all interactions with others left them with a good feeling about themselves and you so that should you ever needed to call upon their assistance they were not just willing, but happy to give it. This advice is sound in every instance, however, with an organisation as large as Schneider to have a network of people who actively want to help you and are willing to leverage their own connections to help is invaluable.

Sally McLaughlin outdoor hobbies Schneider Electric

How do maintain your own well-being and do you have activities outside of work?

I love the outdoors and am kept pretty busy on my partner’s farm. We have a bit of a menagerie: chickens, Indian Runner ducks, Gloucester Old Spot pigs. I am never happier than when I am tending my vegetable patch listening to The Archers. Gathering the produce I have grown and converting it into a meal my friends and family will enjoy, is for me, one of life’s great pleasures.

Join motivated women like Sally at Schneider Electric

Feeling inspired by Sally's career journey? At Schneider Electric, everyone's ideas are valued and women are empowered to fulfill their career ambitions.

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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