Louise Russell

Five minutes with Louise Russell

Job title: Group Competent Authority

Location: px Group Head Office

Quickfire round:

First job: Shop Assistant at Liptons when I was 14.

First car: MG Metro

Favourite TV show: Jeremy Kyle Show

Books or podcasts: Books! In particular Ben Elton fiction

Favourite music (artist/band): Leonard Cohen

First holiday destination after Coronavirus: Whitby

What was your ambition when you were at school?

To marry a footballer, but unfortunately that didn’t work out! My mum said I wanted to work in Woolworths on the till and as my first job was in a shop, my ambition was fulfilled at quite an early age at Liptons. Like most kids I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was at school – I was good at science so ended up studying Environmental Biology at university.  

How did you get into engineering?

By accident – I’d finished my degree and needed to find a job (footballers were still in short supply), environmental jobs were scarce so applied for an HSE Assistant role at company called Enron. I’d never set foot on an industrial site before and had limited knowledge on health and safety, however I was willing to learn and this was noted through the interview process. 

Can you explain what your job entails on a day to day basis?

It varies depending on business needs but in short providing SHEQ compliance support for the business as a whole. I deal with a range of external agencies as the key contact ensuring that px Group complies with the necessary regulations required to keep our operations going.

How has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your role and responsibilities and how have you adapted?

I have been actively involved in the planning of continuing safe operations during a global pandemic, which has been new, but other than a restriction on travelling to sites the day job has remained the same and after 3 months I think I’ve adapted pretty well! 

What’s your favourite thing about working at px Group?

For me it has been the variety of the work I have been able to get involved in – I’ve been involved with the transfer of operations to px Group of all the sites we have and had in the portfolio; worked on major development projects both for px and other clients; worked in different countries; worked with some great people. 

Have you ever had a mentor in the industry? If so, what’s the best bit of advice they’ve given you?

Not officially but I have worked for some great people who I have learnt from.  My first boss, whilst a ‘task master’, always challenged me but also supported me brilliantly and gave me opportunities to develop. He always encouraged me to present myself with confidence and looking back I think this has paid off. 

What are some of the challenges that you have overcome during your career?

I don’t think there’s a specific situation that stands out at the moment as a challenge, but that’s not to say the job is straightforward! I always say that if you work hard, you believe in your capabilities, and you’re not afraid to ask questions or stand up for yourself, you’ll be putting yourself in a good place to overcome things.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I’m not a highlight type of person – but I’ve just been lucky enough to work in a job that I like doing, for a company that I enjoy doing it for and with people who I enjoy working with. That goes a long way to fulfilling job and career satisfaction.

What’s your top tip for women looking to get into engineering?

Give it a go – it might not be up there with being a footballer’s wife, but it can make an interesting career. I didn’t have a plan, but I followed my interests and grasped the opportunity which has given me a good career. 

How can the engineering industry make itself more attractive to women?

In my experience, I don’t particularly think it has to, but I suppose some would say differently. I personally didn’t have a master plan to work in this industry, but what I did do was study an area that I was interested in and I was good at, and it has paid off by giving me a good career. Be prepared to work hard and demonstrate like anyone that you deserve your role on individual merit.

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