As we celebrate International Women's Day, County Down aircraft seating manufacturer, Collins Aerospace, has made a commitment to increase the number of women in leadership roles within the company, as it announced that approximately 25% of the companys Director team is made up of females.
(left to right) Alice Ewert, Laura O’Hare, Gail Doran, Aine Cotter and Catherine Parr.
Courtesy Collins Aerospace
The global manufacturer in Kilkeel, part of Raytheon Technologies Corporation, currently has 750 employees. The company has experienced a steady rise in the number of females in managerial and senior management roles in recent years, which demonstrates how the manufacturing and engineering sectors are moving away from gender-based roles.
The company has placed a firm focus on attracting females into the industry, which historically has been male dominated, with initiatives including the hugely successful ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering’ day, which encourages young females to explore STEM related subjects, as well as various placement opportunities and internships.
Alice Ewart is a Materials and Process Engineer within the composites department at Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel, beginning her career as an Intern as part of the Engineering Leadership Programme from Queen’s University. Speaking about her experience with the company, Alice said, “Since I started Collins Aerospace as an Intern, I was treated as an engineer – it didn’t matter what gender I was – it was never something that was considered. The company has offered me many opportunities to develop myself as a person, as well as my technical skills and knowledge. There is a real drive and really good support structure within the company to encourage and help people to want to do better.”
Business Unit Manager, Catherine Parr, who moved into manufacturing from the construction sector, said, “My previous career experience hasn’t held me back in any way - if anything, having some external experience outside of manufacturing is an advantage as it allows me to bring a particular skillset into my current role. For any women who are looking for a new opportunity, Collins Aerospace is a really good option; there is nothing to stop you from applying for any role in any department and gain new skills and new information. It is a really great place to work.”
To improve the number the women in leadership roles further, Collins Aerospace offers a number of training and development opportunities and places a firm focus on developing women in leadership.
Logistics Director Laura O’Hare began her career with the company back in 2007 as a Quality Engineer, and has since progressed through various roles before securing her current role back in 2018. Laura said, “From a diversity perspective, we are seeing more females in positions that are management led. When you have that ‘can do’ attitude and are trying to get to the next step, it is possible within Collins Aerospace, regardless of whether you are male or female.”
Laura said that since she has joined the company, the number of females being put forward for development programmes and promotions has significantly increased. “Here at Collins, women are strongly encouraged to further develop their careers. They are being given many opportunities for training and development, which is giving them confidence to go for promotions that they wouldn’t have pursued before, or may not have been able to pursue. With so many different departments and types of work within the company, the opportunities are endless.”
Managing Director of Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel, Stuart McKee, credits the success of the Kilkeel facility to the diversity of its workforce. “We are very fortunate to have the most capable, knowledgeable and talented women in the industry - each one making an invaluable contribution to the company’s success. On International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate the women of Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel.”
Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel is a major employer for the local area, and in addition to contributing greatly to the local economy, they have recently embarked on a recruitment drive as the company prepares for future growth.