I want to imagine a future when we don’t need an International Women in Engineering Day. A future when children aren’t encouraged into one career or another because of their sex. A future when there are no male- or female-dominated industries,” says Amy Lane, Electrical Engineering Manager at Kirby. We speak to her as part of our #PeopleFirst series, ahead of International Women in Engineering Day on June 23, 2022.
“Awareness days play a critical role in raising the profile of the incredible women innovators and inventors who have and will continue to shape our world. They allow us to celebrate their achievements and inspire others to follow in their footsteps, but wouldn’t it be great if we got the point where girls already looked to engineering as a favoured career choice.
“That’s my vision. That’s the future I want.”
Amy has taken on the mantle of leading Kirby’s graduate engineering programme. Last month she went to Belgooly National School in Cork, Ireland, armed with elastic bands and paperclips to deliver a session to more than 60 primary school children, as part of Kirby’s early outreach project.
“My father was a Mechanic and he encouraged my sisters, brother and I to explore STEM subjects at school. Without his influence I would have followed the 119 others in my all girls class into nursing, administration, business or teaching.
“I want to be able to do that for other girls, but on a much bigger scale, so that instead of just two women in an engineering class of 60 at college, there would be 20 or 30.
“We need to get children excited about engineering early, by the time they finish school and enter university, they have already decided what they want to be. For the young women already in those classes there may have been someone like me, to show them that it was an option in the first place. Kirby’s work over many years in schools will help us get to that point. It will take time for those young people to come through to graduate programmes like ours, but at Kirby we know it’s an investment worth making.”
Mentorship and Kirby’s people-first values drew Amy to her new role, she had been mentored by Barry O’Sullivan, Kirby’s Group Electrical Engineering Manager. Mentorship is also something she wants to champion through the graduate programme. “The relationships you build when you are coming up can, and do, last a lifetime. They make you better at your job and open your eyes to the bigger picture. I still speak to my first mentor. We haven’t worked together for 12 years, but I know I can touch base with him no matter which time zone we are in.”
Amy was part of a growing group of Irish expats moving to Australia when she graduated in 2010. She spent seven years there, building a career and a family, working for WorleyParsons and EDL. “One of my career highlights was working with aboriginal communities to create power generation facilities in some of the most remote parts of the country,” she tells us proudly.
Returning home to Cork, Ireland in 2018, she used her experience in mining, oil and gas and power to deliver data centres and hasn’t looked back. “Many of my fellow expats haven’t been able to come home for the last few years because of the pandemic. There are plenty of job opportunities here in Ireland, and especially at Kirby, thanks to the growth the company has achieved over the last few years. If anyone reading this is thinking of making the move home, I would encourage them to, wholeheartedly.”
In her day to day, Amy now works with engineers across Kirby to make sure they have the tools and people to deliver projects the Kirby Way. She is also embedding Kirby’s new Engineers Ireland CPD Accredited Employer standards across her team and within the graduate programme and syllabus.
“The Engineers Ireland CPD Accredited Employer standard is a strategic framework which enables engineers and engineering employers to raise competency levels and deliver tangible business benefits by investing in engineers through continuing professional development. It’s a real testament to the people-first culture here at Kirby,” Amy concludes.
To find out more about Kirby’s graduate programme and other exciting career opportunities go to https://careers.kirbygroup.com/graduates/.