Sunday the 8th March 2020 is recognised as International Women’s Day and to celebrate, we caught up with Alison Westlake & Jenny Salmon in our head office. Read on to learn more about their journeys with Kempston Controls and their thoughts on International Women’s Day.
Current Job Position: Internal Sales Manager
First Job Position: Customer Service Clerk
Time at Kempston Controls: 16 years in May
Current Job Position: Technical Support & Procurement Manager
First Job Position: Internal Sales
Time at Kempston Controls: 23 years
Describe your journey with Kempston Controls
It’s been full-on from the first day I joined when I was part of a Team of 4 in the Customer Service Office taking 100 calls a days each, to today where I am now – managing an internal Sales team of 31 who deal with upwards of 1000 calls a day, 500 emailed quote requests and 400 orders. I can honestly say I still enjoy coming in to work – every day is different with new challenges but working with a great group of people makes it so much better.
Started in Sales straight from college, wanted to get a step into the industry and out of my part-time position. I then went into a little of marketing, then external sales. I had my children and went part-time and started the internal technical team for the sensors. We built the team up over a number of years, then I moved to the whole Technical Team manager, more recently adding a new procurement role.
How do we attract more women into a male-dominated industry such as industrial components?
Within the Sales office, we have a great mix of those that enjoy the technical side and those that don’t – personally I do not believe that you have to be passionate about a product to supply a great service and that is what we, within the sales team try and concentrate on. I always tell new starters that the products we sell are not “sexy” – I mean let’s be honest it’s not like a new pair of shoes or handbag – however, if you have an aptitude and a willingness to learn more about how an item works and how you can help a customer with their application – we will as a Company support you in learning and progressing.
Teach young people that Engineering doesn’t have to be a dirty job, and that it is no longer a male environment.
Is there anyone, male or female, who inspires you? & Why?
Cliché I know but my Mum – Brenda Fisher. Best role model I could want from both a work and personal perspective – and she makes a mean macaroni cheese!
My dad, he had to work hard, he ended up starting up the calibration Laboratory for RS. Before this, he used to bring product home and repair it, always fascinated me.
What advice would give to a young female coming into this industry?
Be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions and push yourself forward if you are interested.
Work hard and be yourself, if it is what you want to do you do it, don’t let anyone stop you.
What advice did you receive when you started that stayed with you?
As above – Don’t be afraid to ask.
I was told I shouldn’t go into Engineering, I wouldn’t pass; I like to prove people wrong.
International Women’s Day first started in 1911 – over 100 years ago, is it still relevant & why?
Truthfully I don’t like the idea of having special days to celebrate different genders/race/family members – we should be treating everybody equally at all times and judged on our merits and actions, not on our gender. However, as it’s on my birthday on the 8th I will be celebrating anyway!
Yes it is, we fought hard to get there and there are still old fashioned people and countries around, people should be reminded how industry changes over the years
What three skills are essential for a leader?
- And according to my Boss – the art of delegation!
Be there for your staff, ensuring you listen to them and help them. Keep an eye on the staff, ensuring no one is struggling, if they are, help them or take the issue away from them, make sure they know you are supporting them. Make sure as a leader you include your staff in decisions, teamwork is key.
Thanks to Jenny and Alison for taking the time to tell us all about their respective journeys with Kempston Controls. International women’s day is a focal point for the celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women the world over. At Kempston Controls we believe strongly that a person’s gender shouldn’t be a hindrance to their chosen career path and we are happy to see that businesses and attitudes alike are rapidly moving beyond past prejudices.