The Future Engineers Series: Women in Engineering Pt I
We’re lucky to work with some extremely talented fire engineers who come from diverse backgrounds and bring varied experience to our ever-growing skillsets. This autumn, we’re heading out to graduate fairs across England and Scotland in the hope of meeting more budding young professionals who can come and work with us.
In this series, we speak to some of the female engineers at OFR to get their perspective on their careers in the industry to date and any challenges they’ve faced along the way. The first is with London-based Sacha Holt who has a funny story about her entrance into the industry…
“I joined OFR in March 2020 — a month most people will remember for other reasons!
“I was keen, ready to meet new colleagues, visit new construction sites, then bam, the world went into lockdown.
“Developing my skills and expertise hasn’t been hindered by the pandemic, and although I’m glad to be in the office now, I felt the love and support of colleagues whilst we all worked from home.
“I’m lucky to already have had experience with this business though. I’m originally from New Zealand and previously worked for OFR when the business had ties to Australasia. I’ve always wanted to work overseas so securing a role at OFR here in London is amazing and I’m very happy indeed!
“As a woman in this field I’m always asked about my role. I can’t say that fire engineering was an early ambition, but I much prefer my funny story of ending up in this industry… I was in New Zealand studying Chemical and Process Engineering whilst also coaching a primary school boys hockey team. At one of our sessions I was wearing an engineering society t-shirt that drew the attention of one of the parents — a man who turned out to be Per Olsson — the founder of Olsson Fire and Risk which was the company prior to forming OFR in the UK!
“Per asked me if I’d heard about fire engineering as he was looking for new recruits. I was only in my first year and had no idea about fire engineering, so I researched it and decided it did indeed appeal.
“I was fortunate enough to learn from Per, chatting to him many times over the years whilst coaching his son. Four years later Olsson sponsored my masters, and then I got my first job with the business.
“Joining the sector as a woman has never bothered me and I’ve never experienced any negative comments about my gender, especially at OFR where there’s a really evenly split workforce and just as many of us female engineers as male. And we’re a young workforce, all learning amazing things together.
“Ultimately, I’d encourage anyone with an ounce of interest in this field to come and talk to us. I absolutely love this job; OFR is the most approachable business I’ve ever worked within – and every single opinion matters. Even when you’re training. OFR invests in us – be that professionally or through the various social events we go to as a company. We didn’t get to do as much of the social side as we’d have liked to during lockdowns, but believe me, in my role on the OFR ‘London Social Committee’ we’ve got plans laid ‘til Christmas!
“I can’t reflect on my career without mentioning the calibre of the projects – with everyone in the business given a chance, even on the most high profile of developments; for me that means Google Headquarters and Olympia Kensington. I’d encourage anyone to apply for a role here and get the same incredible experience that I’m lucky enough to get each day.”