Esther Sullivan – SYSTRA Technician
At SYSTRA we are continually supporting the development and growth of our people to maximise potential. As a learning and development organisation we focus on developing our people and have a strong focus on helping Technicians and Apprentices start their career.
Esther Sullivan is a Technician with our Bridges team, described as diligent, thorough and committed, Esther joined the business in 2014 as an assistant technician before progressing to the position of Technician. We spoke with Esther about her experience and what it’s like forging a career in engineering.
What inspired you to become a Technician? Was there a reason you chose this route rather than staying on at college/school?
I had completed my A-Levels in 2013, but I found the subjects I initially chose didn’t suit my personality or my strengths. As a result, I did a general engineering BTEC as suggested by family members. I found that drafting work was really peaceful for me and I enjoyed it, so I started to pursue career opportunities in it.
Did you face any barriers when choosing your career field and what did you do to overcome these?
Previously, I had expressed interest in going into the Navy, I was told by my A-level teacher at the time that women shouldn’t do such jobs as it took them away from their family should they ever wish to be mothers. I naturally was very annoyed at this statement and took the initial naval test shortly after. I didn’t end up pursuing this career opportunity, but I didn’t let someone’s opinion stop me. I think this is a lesson for everyone starting out in their careers, male or female.
Attending college prior to my work with SYSTRA I, unfortunately, experienced some harassment from the 16 years old’s in my class. I managed to stick out the college year and proved that I could achieve by proceeding to get one of the highest grades in my class.
Joining SYSTRA a few years ago, women were few and far apart in the field, so much so that female PPE was historically custom-made and for some time I was wearing small male sized PPE. With the growing number of women, the industry has developed and grown, and everyone now has access to off the rack PPE made with women’s stature in mind.
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking of pursuing a career in engineering?
If you’re attending college, as a young adult, remember that the people in your class are barely out of school and as such they’ll probably behave that way.
My poor experience at college and with teachers has never been reflected in my experiences in the workplace. I have only ever encountered respect and the willingness for others to teach me within the industry and at SYSTRA.
What always impresses me most is an eagerness to learn and ask questions. I don’t require an apprentice or a graduate to know everything, what I require is for people to ask when they don’t know.
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
In my experience, an apology is always better that an excuse. Hold yourself responsible for your projects but also don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.
Always ask questions.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hope for the future is the be promoted to Senior Technician.
My aim for myself professionally is to be widely regarded as a highly competent technician and I look forward to seeing the Technician’s I have helped to train do well.