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IWD2021 - Tanya's Story

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day and to celebrate the achievements and successes of our female team we took some time to interview them about their careers.

This is Tanya’s story...

Tanya Westenraad joined Packaging Automation as an Apprentice in 2002 qualifying as a Design Engineer in 2007. She now leads the Engineering Design Manager.

Q. Tanya, can you tell us do you have a role model?

My role model is Gillian McKinnon: Area Manager - Merseyside/Cheshire at The Royal British Legion

Q. Please can you tell us a little about your experience/career history in the manufacturing sector?

I started my career in engineering at Packaging Automation in 2001 at the age of 18 on a 4-year advanced apprenticeship, attending college on day release to complete my studies. Being very focused and driven, I finished my NVQ early and subsequently went on to study for my BEng Honours Mechanical Engineering, whilst being supported by PA. Despite illness I still managed to smash my degree.

I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity by PA and am very grateful for all the support and encouragement I have had from them. The PA team have been so supportive in good times and bad and helped me deal with family illness.

During my time at PA there are a few stand out moments, the first would be the Rotofill machine. I was responsible for the mechanical design of this model in our product range as well as getting it to market in record time, so I am particularly proud of that.

Secondly, I would say that I consider myself to be the pot filling expert at PA making improvements to machinery so that it is a cleaner process, faster and more efficient.

And more recently in 2020, I was invited by IMECHE (Institute of Mechanical Engineering) to join the Food & Drink Engineering Committee .

Q. What is it like working in a male-dominated environment?

Engineering is still a male dominated industry but despite that I think women can make a real difference, we naturally have better emotional intelligence which helps us to diffuse situations much better. We can more easily read individuals and situations and therefore can adapt our management style to suit the situation.

In a male dominated industry, I try to remain mindful and polite, but I can stand my ground. Strong emotional intelligence enables me to flex my management style to suit all situations.

Engineers can be quite blunt and direct using colourful language, but I have learnt not to take it personally and have earnt the respect of my colleagues.

The Senior Management Team at PA have encouraged and supported me professionally and helped me through some difficult personal family times too.

Q. What are the benefits/ advantages?

It is great working with lots of different people and fun personalities.

Q. And what are the difficulties/disadvantages?

Managing strong personalities when things get a bit ‘frayed’ can be a challenge.

Q. Have you had to overcome any difficulties throughout your career?

I have had various things that have impacted over the years; however, I have learnt that through clear constant communication most of it can be easily resolved. I now tend not to ignore or hide from difficult situations and trust that there is always a support network available.

Q. Have you developed any specific skills?

Resource management and looking ahead as opposed to just today. I have learnt to multitask daily different priorities and determining what is most important.

We hope you enjoy Tanya’s story as much as we have enjoyed interviewing her.

The lessons we have learnt from her are numerous but include:

· Clear communication is key

· Multi tasking is vital

· Harness your emotional intelligence

Thank you, Tanya, for sharing you journey, we are lucky to have you on our team #TeamPA

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