Why female engineers need to be fearless: Don’t be afraid of making mistakes as you work out how to solve challenging problems – Gina Schade, Production Manager at Sony UK Technology Centre

Sony UK Technology Centre

Gina Schade is a production manager at Sony UK Technology Centre. In her role, she is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing process of high-end Sony professional broadcast cameras and camera systems for world-wide markets, including the latest ground-breaking 4K broadcast technology. Gina is a recent Cardiff University graduate with a Master’s degree in Medical Engineering.

Gina Schade - Sony UK Technology Centre

Gina Schade

“…personal advice I’d like to give to other girls and women is to be fearless – do not be afraid of putting forth your opinion. Making mistakes is inevitable on the road to success…”

From an academic jack of all trades to creative logical thinker

After completing secondary school, I was in great need of inspiration – an unfortunate side-effect of being an academically well-rounded ‘jack of all trades’ was that I had no overwhelming affinity towards a single career path. All I knew was that I wanted to pursue an occupation that drew from all streams of knowledge and was impactful to the world.

Shenzhen_city_montage

Shenzhen

It sounds amusing, but I only discovered what being an engineer entailed during an internship at a quality assurance firm specialising in electronic appliances. During my time at the company I travelled to factories in Shenzen to carry out quality management and improvement activities. In addition, I was involved with the design and manufacture of a new product, from a brainstorming session around a whiteboard to its roll-out for mass production. This was the inspiration I was looking for.

I knew engineering was the path for me as it combines logical thinking, creativity and hands-on tinkering to create results that are tangible and fulfil a purpose. Since my internship I have attained a Masters in Medical Engineering from Cardiff University and have been working at Sony UK Technology Centre (Sony UKTEC) as a production manager for nine months.

Transitioning from medical engineering into manufacturing

I studied medical engineering because it combined two disciplines I enjoy, biology and engineering. Furthermore, as a person who participated in many sports I was attracted to the challenge of modelling the kinematics of the human body and ergonomic product design.

The early years of my degree focused on creating a solid foundation in mechanical and electronic engineering principles, which I have been able to successfully transfer and implement in a manufacturing role. Manufacturing is a demanding and multi-faceted environment without a lack of challenge or opportunities, it allows me to develop a valuable skill set which in turn, is transferrable to other engineering pathways I may pursue in the future.

My role at the Sony UK Technology Centre

Sony-UK-Technology-Centre-team-memberAs a production manager, my primary responsibility is to lead, manage and motivate a manufacturing team for the assembly, testing and quality control of our broadcast system camera range. This includes assessment of performance metrics, training and development of my staff and driving corrective action for issues affecting quality or output.

I liaise with other departments to analyse capacity and create daily, weekly and monthly strategies for the efficient use of materials, machines and people resources. Another significant part of my role is to facilitate improvement activities with members of my business unit to identify ways to develop standard work practices, increase flexibility and avoid deviations or defects.

The most rewarding part of my job is delivering a world class product on tight deadlines combined with the pleasure of working with a dedicated and skilled team.

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day this year I’ll be attending a screening at my old campus of Hidden Figures, an Oscar-nominated film about African-American women who played a vital role in the US space programme.

Between 12th – 23rd June, I’m also talking to students about my work and competing for their votes as part of the online STEM outreach competition, I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here!

International Women in Engineering Day is important to raise awareness of the need for corporate initiatives to stop gender polarisation of jobs and is an opportunity for women in the industry to cultivate a support network. It was evident sitting in my lectures at university, the number of men pursuing a career in engineering vastly outweighs the number of women. Outreach programmes are essential to show how accessible and rewarding engineering is to a valuable talent pool.

Advice for other girls and women who are interested in careers in engineering

My advice for other girls and women who are interested in careers in engineering is to get educated! There are several routes you can take to become an engineer. Pursuing a university degree in engineering is an effective and rewarding method however, apprenticeships are an often-overlooked option that provides an excellent way to gain essential experience and get started in the job market.

Another piece of personal advice I’d like to give to other girls and women is to be fearless – do not be afraid of putting forth your opinion. Making mistakes is inevitable on the road to success. The most important quality I took away from university is the ability to look at a problem and admit: “No, I have no idea to solve it – however, I am confident I can figure it out!”

Continuous innovation is the future

I will be continuing my professional development at Sony UKTEC and will be actively participating in outreach programmes as a STEM ambassador. I am excited to see what is in store for the future of UKTEC as we have a reputation for continuous innovation. The facility recently launched the Advanced Manufacturing Research Operations Centre (AMROC), which will pioneer the next generation of manufacturing processes, and I look forward to being a part of that journey.

 

http://www.sonypencoed.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/SonyUKTEC/


 

Shenzhen image credit: By jo.sau, JHH755, Kyman Cheng, jo.sau, Jonathan Leung, Leon Petrosyan [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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