Three of Cirrus’ successful career women tell of their experiences working and progressing in a male-dominated sector.
In the male-dominated Health & Safety industry, Cirrus Research has a strong track record in attracting, recruiting and retaining women across its global business. Times and manufacturing have changed, some areas faster than others, but more roles and opportunities are available for women than ever before in the sector – and none more so than at Cirrus Head Office, in its R&D department as well as sales offices around the world.
As Finance Manager, Jo Revett covers finance, operations, HR and site management for the company, as well as advising and supporting the finance function in other parts of the Group. She started her career at Cirrus five years ago as Accounts Assistant, doing the day-to-day processing and office admin. She was asked to be Interim Finance Manager in 2015, and took on many more additional responsibilities, before gaining her permanent promotion a year later.
Jo said, “I was lucky enough to be offered an amazing opportunity, a chance to try a role I hadn’t any experience in. I‘ve learnt an immense amount, and continue to do so, in a job I really enjoy.”
“I’ve completed two modules of a CIMA qualification, and I’m aiming to have this first level completed by the end of 2019. I’ve also completed a management training programme, which was extremely helpful with the move into management.”
She added: “I don’t feel there should be any comparison between men and women. I’ve been lucky in where I work and who I work with, so it’s never been a factor for me to consider, and I don’t believe it should be for anyone.”
Colleague Bei Zhang has also grasped career opportunities at Cirrus but she switched focus – and country – completely, to enjoy two varied career paths within the company.Bei started in 2006 working part-time for Cirrus whilst completing a PhD in Electronic Engineering. She became a full-time engineer in the R&D department three years later. She then switched to become Business Development Manager for the company, a role that uses her extensive knowledge of the products and technology but in a sales environment. She explained: “People usually say that men dominate engineering fields, however, I think both departments I have worked in are great. I’m respected for what I do and colleagues are willing to listen to me to get the job done.
“When I decided to go back to China, Cirrus provided me with a chance to open a new world in sales. I think Cirrus provides flexibility and job diversity for staff rather than setting people in a fixed position, which makes for many possibilities. I want to continue learning and curiosity is a key word for me in my job.”
Stephanie Lynch is based in the US and works as a product manager for Cirrus’ sole North American distributor, OHD. As an army wife with different postings every few years, her work experience didn’t follow a typical career path. She explains: “I’ve just joined OHD, I was previously employed as an Industrial Hygienist with the US Army. “My husband was an active duty soldier for the US Army, which required us to move every few years. This severely limited my employment opportunities, but it led me to put myself out there professionally, which has paid off. “My education and work experience over the past 10 years have been in highly-varying industries (manufacturing, research, academia, and government), but all focused on Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Safety, which I believe is my most valuable asset.”
Whilst some sectors undoubtedly still have glass ceilings for women to break through, the Health & Safety industry seems to offer a wide variety of roles and career prospects that are open to all. Although still male-dominated in H&S, women don’t appear to be impeded by their gender – as Cirrus Research is a testament to – and women are recognised and appreciated for the skills and expertise they bring to their respective companies.