NPD Manager, BNL UK
My role involves all aspects of bringing a new product to market – from the initial concept right through to product launch, being a key contact for all issues concerning the products we are working on, keeping the team and customers informed of progress and making sure that all requirements are met. It includes accurately costing products, project management, establishing and following procedures, keeping up to date on customer and market information, and generally, liaising with all areas of the business to get the product to market.
What did you want to be when you were at school?
When I left school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as my long-term career. I wasn’t worried about not knowing at that time and simply chose my next educational steps based on the subjects that I enjoyed. These happened to be in STEM and related subjects and so that set my path for me.
What did you study?
I studied A Levels in Psychology and Maths and History and this lead me on to achieve a Batchelor of Arts degree in Psychology and then, a few years later, to become a member of the ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants). So I have a varied background in study, which I suppose reflects the fact that I like to be challenged by new things and work in a job where the days are always different.
What do you do in a typical day?
As a global company, NPD requires a lot of international co-operation at BNL. My typical day starts with picking up emails from my colleagues in our China, Japan and Thailand offices. These can range from pricing requests from our sales team or new opportunities for management review, to requests for information on existing projects, or cost reviews of newly designed parts. I am in contact with our Thailand manufacturing facility regularly as some of our production tools are manufactured and approved in the UK then transferred to Thailand for long-term production. This involves trials and approvals of parts and processes from our QA team in Thailand and the customers themselves.
In the afternoon, our USA team comes on line, and we discuss any sales and engineering questions that have come up overnight. I also deal with customer prototype requests and manage the workload of our prototype department, liaise with our tooling department to ensure our new tooling is on track to meet customer deadlines and process any new tooling orders and off tool sample orders.
I produce weekly and monthly reporting of our new business for senior management review and monitor new business milestones in line with our quality management system, ensuring that process documentation is completed and signed off ahead of production. This means I attend our company board meetings to provide information on our new business sales and our forecast new business wins.
My days are varied and can often include all of the above or none of them at all!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety of the job, being able to work with people across functions and departments. Being able to use my core strengths and having the opportunity to learn and understand the elements of design, quality and production that I encounter on a day to day basis.
What is your best or most enjoyable moment in your career?
Thinking back over the time in my present role, I don’t have one single defining moment that I can highlight as my best/most enjoyable. I work as part of a team of people who are focused on several different projects at any one time, each of these projects have their own challenges, specific requirements and timelines – so every time we win a new project or when we hit the customers start of production deadline it’s a great feeling.
My role has provided me with many great moments.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by anyone who sets out towards a goal and achieves it despite obstacles or setbacks. Anyone passionate enough to fight for change or driven enough to find new solutions to existing problems.
What are your career aspirations?
As our business grows and teams expand, I am looking forward to managing a larger team, having the opportunity to be exposed to new parts of the business and gaining new skills. My aim is to be part of a highly collaborative environment that develops me as a professional and a person.
How do you think we can encourage women into STEM/Engineering/Manufacturing careers?
If women are interested in, enjoy or excel in the STEM subjects, then there needs to be careers advice available through schools and colleges and actively advertising and promotion of the vast range of job opportunities that are available within this sector. It’s important for woman to understand the fringe roles that exist to them in industry and STEM companies, roles that maybe are not 100% pure engineering or exactly what they imagined a role in this industry to be, but utilise their strengths in an environment that they find interesting and enjoyable.
Any advice for young women, or anyone, wanting to start a STEM/Engineering/Manufacturing career?
Work hard at the subjects that you enjoy and apply for positions that you think you will find interesting and that will suit your strengths. It’s hard to imagine the different kinds of opportunities that are available to you, especially before you even enter the work force. My advice would be to ask as many questions as you can, try to find people who will talk to you about their roles, find a role that sounds interesting and just go for it. If you are passionate about STEM subjects then you are already half way there.