Joanna Flowers, aged 38, had never imagined a career as an engineer. She’s now been working as a fully-qualified engineer for British Gas in Manchester for six years.
After attending school and then college, the mother of one went to Wolverhampton University to study a degree in photography – one of her biggest passions.
It was this skill that took her around the world, running a photography studio on cruise ships. But, after seven years, she was soon missing home and decided to move back to the UK in 2007.
Keen to spend more time with her family, Joanna started to look for part-time work and successfully applied for a job at British Gas’ customer service department in Stockport.
In the office one day, she heard about opportunities to become a British Gas apprentice engineer. After looking into it a little more she decided to apply.
“A month after my interview I was training at a British Gas academy, where there are boilers to learn the practical side of the job and classrooms to learn the theory.
“It was never a career I had considered because it wasn’t given as an option in school or college – but I’m glad I found it.
“Through my apprenticeship I’ve made friends with lots of engineers, both female and male. I’ve learnt a new trade and have gained skills for life.
“Eight years on since starting my apprenticeship, I’m qualified and feel like I have a good career ahead of me.
Talking about the day job now, she added: “Customers are sometimes surprised when they open the door to me but they soon see I can fix a boiler like the next engineer.
“Every day is different and that’s what I enjoy about the job, personally. I could be fixing a boiler in the morning and then fitting a Hive Active Heating™ smart device straight after. Customers really like that product as it allows them to switch their heating or hot water on or off with a touch of their mobile or tablet app.”
Speaking about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics) careers, Joanna added: “I think women are sometimes put off working as engineers like me because they assume there’s going to be a lot of heavy lifting involved – but there isn’t.
“I want to continue my career at this level for as long as I can because I love being hands-on and meeting new people every day.”