R&D Manager, Abbott Dundee
Transfer & Insourcing Manager, Abbott Dundee
Two women in senior STEM roles reveal how their careers have developed, and why mentorship, inspiring role models and inclusiveness have been key to their success.
Ami Mitchell — Transfer & Insourcing Manager at Abbott Dundee — has never felt disadvantaged as a woman in STEM. “But that might be because my employer is extremely proactive in making sure that women are represented at all levels of the business,” she says.
Ami joined Abbott after graduating from university with a degree in biomedical science. “I started as a manufacturing scientist and then became a reagents scientist,” she explains. “Eventually I was promoted to product lead — and, ultimately, moved into my current role in February. It’s been good to work in so many different areas.” As if she wasn’t busy enough, Ami is also studying for a degree in Business Management with Industrial Experience.
Lynsey Williams — Ami’s manager — was destined for a career in STEM. After studying for a degree in microbiology, she joined Abbott as a scientist in 2003 and took up her current role as R&D Manager in January. “I’ve always found it to be a very inclusive business,” says Lynsey. “There are lots of programmes for women in STEM and lots of development opportunities.”
Mentors and role models for women in STEM
Both women lead busy teams, which requires effective people skills. “Stepping up into management was a learning curve for me,” admits Ami.
Along the way, mentors have provided help for both women when necessary. “If I’ve ever needed guidance, it’s been available,” says Lynsey. “We have a UK-wide mentoring programme, so I recently connected with a female manager at Abbott’s manufacturing site in Oxfordshire for some advice. Plus, as part of our leadership journey, Ami and I have both been trained and equipped with coaching skills.” That’s essential when you’re identifying and developing the next generation of talent.
It’s also been important to be inspired by female role models further up the STEM career ladder, says Ami. “When you’re trying to balance work and family life, it helps you realise that you can achieve that kind of success, too,” she notes.
STEM offers numerous opportunities
Lynsey and Ami would recommend a STEM career to anyone. “You can have so many different experiences within this industry,” says Lynsey. “The stereotype is someone in a lab coat standing at a bench. But it’s so much more than that, with numerous opportunities to explore.”
Why my job in engineering is a dream role for me
Facilities Engineer, Abbott Dundee
Pamela Ritchie always loved STEM subjects and taking things apart to see how they worked. Now she’s the first female engineer at a Abbott’s manufacturing site in Dundee.
What does your job entail?
I’m the only female engineer at Abbott’s Dundee site. If any of the manufacturing machines break down, it’s my job to fix them — and then usually monitor them to make sure the problem has been resolved.
Describe your career journey
At school I loved STEM subjects. When I was 19, I did an apprenticeship with Michelin Tyres, and went on to do various roles within the business in the 26 years I was there — including, training apprentices. I started with Abbott in April.
How does it feel to be the first female engineer at the Dundee site?
I’m down-to-earth and get on with everyone and, in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve felt so welcome. I have faced challenges during my career; usually it’s the stereotypes that come with engineering ‘oh be careful that’s heavy’ or ‘are you sure you know how to fix that equipment’. I deal with that by just getting on with the job, we need to create awareness that we can all do things equally.
What is the best thing about your work?
Some people might be put off by engineering because it can be physically challenging. But it’s exciting and you never know what you’ll be dealing with next — so there’s never time to be bored.