Her story is one of over overcoming barriers, be they related to disability, unconscious bias, the fear of the unknown or society's expectations: “At times during my career, I have been the first disabled female engineer that my counterparts have worked with.”
Beth has been working as an Integrated Support Engineer (ISE) at the Yeovil helicopter site of Leonardo UK for three years now. Away from her day job, she is also Vice Chair of the company's Enable Network Group .
From the outset, her education was vocational and geared toward on-the-job training. She completed an advanced engineering apprenticeship in fabrication and welding, and spent her apprenticeship with the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, Shropshire, West Midlands, where she worked on restoring and conserving heritage aircraft for static display. This included repairs for a Handley Page Hampden and a Spitfire PR19, along with the conservation of a Dornier Do17Z which was recovered from the water. After her apprenticeship, she progressed her career path to work in aerospace and defence on active aircraft.
Today, Beth is part of a team providing through-life support for the AW101 helicopters: “We assist both military and civilian customers, providing instructions for the maintenance and modification of the aircraft to ensure its continued airworthiness and enable the aircraft to continue to meet the customer’s operational needs.”
As an ISE, one of the greatest challenges she faces every day is guaranteeing correct and effective communication, so as to ensure that technical data (from different figures and domains) and instructions provided are unambiguous, and can be read and understood by all operators of the aircraft, regardless of their training or native language.
As a part of the team supporting the Norwegian AWSAR (All-Weather Search and Rescue) programme, she is fully aware and proud of how crucial her work at Leonardo is: “The positive feedback and thank you from the customer encourages me, knowing that the work of Leonardo enables them to save lives, which is amazing.”
Beth is also Vice Chair of the Enable Network Group – one of seven Network Groups working to make Leonardo's UK sites more inclusive for the company's diverse workforce. Enable is dedicated supporting disabled or neuro-divergent employees through constant discussion and collaboration of all colleagues, at all levels and roles. The goal is to consolidate best practices experienced across the UK, so as to support employees with disabilities. She explains: “My work with the Enable Network Group is also important to me and (I believe) to the future engineers I hope to encourage. I use my experiences as a disabled female engineer to educate, support and improve the access, facilities and infrastructure within Leonardo for all.” In particular, Beth is working with Leonardo Global Solutions to improve the disabled facilities available at the historic Yeovil Site, one of the oldest Leonardo sites in the UK.
Another project involves fostering career progression for individuals who are disabled or neuro-divergent. The aim – she says – is to complement existing Leonardo career development and mentoring programmes, with the aim to provide an alternative development pathway for those for whom a tailored approach works better.
In both her roles, Beth combines personal, communication and educational skills to achieve common goals such as raising awareness and promoting disability inclusion. She firmly believes that people can truly bring about change through their actions, saying: “The foundations of a good company include its culture. The employees are a company’s culture.”
For Beth, working for Leonardo means embarking on a journey towards change and innovation, one in which “no person should be left behind” and “...our products and work protect, support and make a difference to lives around the world.”