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Raising the Profile of Women in Engineering - An interview with Debbie Andrews

Monday, December 14, 2020

Raising the Profile of Women in Engineering

An interview with Debbie Andrews, Supervisor Seamless Tube Production at Fine Tubes

Debbie Andrews works as a Supervisor Seamless Tube Production at Fine Tubes, a leading manufacturer of high precision metal tubing products. Debbie talks about her own experiences and explains why women can benefit hugely from a career in engineering.

Q. Can you tell us about your current engineering role at Fine Tubes?

My role is Supervisor Seamless Tube Production, working in the seamless mill at Fine Tubes and overseeing a team that works three different shifts, nights, days and backs. We’re involved in the actual making of the tubes, working on the draw benches, furnaces and on the finishing side, where we straighten the tubes. We polish them and put them through ultrasonic testing to make sure they meet the right specification. It’s my job to manage the team so that we proactively meet our productivity targets and deal with any day-to-day issues, including quality control.

The work is challenging and requires a fair amount of multitasking. At Fine Tubes, every day is different and not at all monotonous. I love getting the best out of myself and my team and feeling the satisfaction of achieving our goals - for the company, the customer and ourselves. Being part of manufacturing some of the best tubes in the world with a committed team is a great feeling at the end of the day.

Q. Have you always been interested in working as an engineer?

Before joining Fine Tubes, I worked for ten years as a coach driver with National Express! I was out and about on the road every day, up and down the country from Plymouth to Aberdeen. I arrived at Fine Tubes eighteen years ago as an agency worker and started off by running the rotary polishers.

I then trained on the straighteners and spent some time in the inspection department. I’d never been in an engineering or factory environment before that, but I found it all really interesting. I worked my way up the ranks to become Supervisor Seamless Tube Production – something I am really proud to have achieved.

Q. Why are you on a mission to raise the profile of women in engineering?

Just as there weren’t many women driving coaches when I started out, we were also in a minority in my early days at Fine Tubes. I am very keen to see more women follow in my footsteps, in my view, it has a lot to do with attitude. As the schools put a bigger variety of subjects out there for young women, attitudes are changing for the better, and the younger generation of women are getting involved in more ‘hands-on’ careers like engineering.

Q. What advice do you have for young women who are interested in a career in engineering?

Go for it! If you have the passion and drive to succeed, then you are setting off the right way. I have always lived by the philosophy that: ‘the more of a challenge you give me, the better I perform.’ No-one can ask more than that.