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Diageo women are challenging stereotypes in engineering

 June 18, 2018

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Impressive women are thriving in roles such as engineering, distilling and site operations at prime employer, Diageo. Celebrating its inclusive and diverse culture is core to Diageo’s purpose of “celebrating life every day everywhere”. With supply at the very heart of the Diageo business worldwide, strong and talented women are setting extraordinary industry standards and smashing glass ceilings in the drinks industry. We meet some of the impressive female engineering talent at this progressive company.

Women work at Diageo in great jobs

Chelsea looks for new ways to improve the business

Chelsea Riddoch is in training to run her own site in a busy and rewarding role as trainee site operations manager with Diageo. Currently, she shadows experienced site operations managers in maltings, distillery and bio plants, and is always looking for new ways to improve the business.

“Working in the drinks industry is great!” says Chelsea. “It’s fantastic to be involved in a fast moving and growing business. The opportunities that are available are fantastic to move and grow as an individual.”

Prior to her role, Chelsea completed an apprenticeship with Diageo as a mechanical maintenance engineer. “I extremely enjoyed my engineering apprenticeship and would recommend it to anyone,” she says. Chelsea spent her first six months of her trainee SOM position at Talisker Distillery, Isle of Skye. From there she moved to Moray House, Elgin, and she is now one of the Manufacturing Excellence leads. “Manufacturing Excellence is a programme to embed the behavioural and physical change to drive performance in a sustained and managed way,” explains Chelsea.

Chelsea cares deeply about addressing gender imbalance in STEM roles

Being extremely well organised and willing to move above and beyond her comfort zone has helped Chelsea thrive in her career with Diageo. “My engineering knowledge helps me greatly in the trainee SOM role,” explains Chelsea. “People skills are also essential, and so is the ability to take on new things quickly and effectively.” However, Chelsea believes that a big challenge right now is the attraction and retention of talent. “Careers in STEM are on the rise and our business is no different. It is also a real challenge to address gender imbalance within STEM and let girls know where at what STEM jobs are.”

Bagpipes, horses, pandas and kickboxing help Chelsea's work-life balance

“I’m a black belt in kickboxing,” says Chelsea, “and I also play the bagpipes as a member of Dufftown and district pipe band. I help look after horses and take part in horse riding lessons, I enjoy snowboarding in the winter months, and lastly I am a complete animal lover especially pandas and took a solo flight to China a few years ago to volunteer with them.”

Diageo women jobs

Billie coaches engineering teams to success

With a background in electrical engineering, Billie Cowie is a Manufacturing Excellence Operator (Manex) at Diageo and works as part of an improvement programme that is designed to provide the tools that lead a company to success. “As a manex operator, I coach teams to use these tools and positively change behaviours,” explains Billie. “Being in the manex team it is very rewarding seeing physical and behavioural changes being made at sites on a daily basis.”

Billie loves knowing that she works for a company that make amazing products that are enjoyed worldwide. “It’s exciting being in an airport on the other side of the world and seeing a bottle of whisky, knowing I have actually worked on the site where it was made!” However, there is competition in every industry, and Billie notes that Diageo is constantly innovating to ensure it is at the forefront of consumer trends and remains relevant to its consumers.

Diageo women careers

Bioenergy Manager, Alex, maintains Diageo’s green integrity

Alex Bell thrives on the problem-solving aspect of her role as bioenergy operations manager and is constantly thinking outside the box to find workable solutions to highly complex and technical problems. Alex is responsible for ensuring the performance of the Cameronbridge Bioenergy Plant and providing support to the various other bioenergy plants around Scotland associated with Diageo operations.

“The bioenergy sites associated with our business primarily operate by treating waste from our processes and converting them into green energy,” explains Alex. “Bioenergy performance is a vital part of ensuring that Diageo meets its goals in terms of environmental sustainability.”

No two days are the same in Alex’s unique role

“My role is incredibly diverse,” comments Alex. “Not only is there huge variety in terms of the projects I am able to work on day-to-day but I am also given the ability to deal with a range of bioenergy processes and the unique issues that come along with them.”

The exciting challenge for Alex is keeping up with the Diageo’s environmental goals as they are evolving, so the emphasis on the performance of bioenergy plants is constantly growing in order to help reduce Diageo’s environmental impact. “As a company, we are constantly seeking to minimise our impacts and positively contribute to the environmental performance of the drinks sector,” explains Alex. “So optimising every step of our bioenergy process (as well as seeking to lead the way in terms of innovative future solutions) is now at the forefront of what both I and the business are trying to achieve.”

Women and their jobs at Diageo

From civil works to software changes

Project Engineer, Pilar Amieva, is part of the International Supply Centre project engineering team that supports production operations for Diageo. She manages anything from civil works to software changes and refurbishments for different sites across the central belt of Scotland. Pilar’s team works closely with different functions across the business such as brand change, production, malting and distilling.

As an industry new-comer, Pilar loves to support other women in engineering. “We need to support our females in engineering in order to grow within the industry,” says Pilar. What particularly excites her, however, is how the consumer goods industry is fast changing and driven by innovation. She loves working with Diageo and is very proud of the products they produce and their iconic brands.

Diageo - International Women in Engineering Day

Athletics judge and dragon collector, Norma, turns ideas into reality

With hobbies that including judging athletics competitions and installing five-foot dragons in her back garden, it's no surprise that project manager, Norma Bruce, chose an exciting and challenging career at Diageo, turning ideas into reality. “I’ll put buildings up, put in equipment and make it go. I’ll also change the equipment to make it better,” says Norma.

Norma loves her job as there is always something new to do. “Working in engineering is an excellent balance of working with people and things, and learning about both. Things are always changing, expanding, contracting and there is always something new to do,” she comments. “When you see something that you have design, build, installed or commissioned working, it’s a great feeling. There’s always a chance to learn, improve your understanding or help others improve theirs.”

Diageo Brands

Engineering manager Jennifer, leads her teams to bottling success

Jennifer O’Keefe is part of the technical and engineering leadership team that oversees the Diageo’s largest Scotch whisky bottling site at Shieldhall - bottling over 600 spirit bottles per minute. With two teams of engineers totalling a staff of 31 reporting into her, Jennifer’s fast-paced and exciting role covers everything from maintenance of site utilities and infrastructure through to supporting technical escalations and managing CAPEX projects.

“Working for Diageo is great because you are part of a truly global company with amazing brands that everyone loves and recognises. But at the same time, it’s a local business that supports the communities it works in,” comments Jennifer.

Jennifer loves the constant challenges that she faces in manufacturing and knowing that her work impacts both the site and company vision.

“If you can get people to understand the challenges and how they can support you, you’re 70% of the way to a solution,” says Jennifer.

Find your next career at Diageo

Diageo is a truly global employer offering world-class support for women in engineering and related STEM careers. It views diversity as one of the key enablers that help its business to grow, and depends on having diverse talent with a range of backgrounds, skills and capabilities in each of the 180 countries in which it operates and to reflect its broad consumer base. Diageo is one of the best companies in the world for women seeking an amazing career.

Search and apply for your next role in one of 180 countries with Diageo.


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