International Women and Girls in Science Day Article Employee Profile, Lyndsay Penn, Operations Manager – Glass
Lyndsay Penn has just joined Encirc as our new Operations Manager for Glass. With over 15 years of experience at Tata Steel, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a new perspective to our team. Quickly settling into her role, Lyndsay has become an integral part of our operations – ensuring the people around her feel safe and happy, while ensuring production runs smoothly and sustainably.
We recently caught up with Lyndsay to find out a little bit more about her role and her story.
So, what made you choose a career in STEM?
I’ve always loved making things – from playing a lot with Lego as a child, I then went to focus more on the sciences in school.
My first real introduction into manufacturing and engineering came as part of a 6th form ‘Girls into STEM’ course, where I spent a week at the University of Salford finding out more about the different career options available. These types of courses are so valuable to young people.
It was here that I was introduced to the field of Chemical Engineering which, to me, seemed extremely interesting. I then studied Chemical Process Technology & Management at Loughborough University and loved it. This set me firmly on the path I’m on now.
I love having the ability to see behind the scenes of how everyday things are made, from glass bottles to steel beams and buildings. This is something that I love about the manufacturing industry.
Knowing that, in two weeks, the glass bottles that have been created in our factory will be used by families across the country is hugely satisfying and that ‘insider knowledge’ has always appealed to me.
What’s changed in the industry since you came into it?
A lot has changed since I first joined the sector – there is now digitalisation and data analysis and, of course, sustainability becoming front and centre for many companies.
When I first joined the manufacturing sector, the foundation industries were very traditional and male-dominated, made up of mainly labour-intensive roles. That is of course still the case in many areas, but things are moving in the right direction, with many more decision-makers having a progressive mindset.
New technology is opening opportunities for everyone, no matter what their gender or background. While there is still work to be done, we’re definitely making progress, especially at Encirc.
With the skills gap growing ever more urgent, it has become increasingly important that our sector widens its talent pool by being as appealing to as many people as it can.
The other main area of change has been with the implementation of new technology, like close loop control systems, digital twin models and much more.
This technology has been key to creating a more sustainable sector too, with data analysis at Encirc being vital to finding ways to lower carbon emissions, and create more environmentally friendly products.
Day-to-day, what are the focuses of your role?
There’s a lot that goes on every day, and it’s never the same. With Encirc being so fast-paced, we hold two production meetings a day and these lay out the priorities for both the day and night teams meaning the processes can progress smoothly.
During my time at Tata Steel, I picked up plenty of experience and I’m working to bring that knowledge into the glass sector, sharing it with the people I work with and working to improve processes. These production meetings are a great way for us to share experiences as a team and support each other throughout the day.
Part of my role is being responsible for the performance of our teams and ensuring every product leaves the plant in the right way, but it’s also about making sure everyone is safe and happy and that, as a team, we work together to be productive and create a great working environment for everyone around us.
Helping people grow and flourish in the environment we’ve created is another main priority for me, and it’s this thought which lets me go home with a smile on my face because we, as a team, have achieved what we need to.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done at Encirc so far?
When I first joined, I was actually treated to a European tour, visiting the other Encirc and Vidrala plants in Italy, Spain and Northern Ireland. It was a really educational time for me, getting to see how other factories operated within the group and meeting people from the other businesses within Vidrala.
During that time, and since I started in Elton, it’s been fascinating to learn more about the processes and technical elements. Glass and steel, although very different, do share some key similarities, and learning about the technical side of the glass making process has been a great time.
What would you say to anyone thinking of working in this type of industry?
Definitely do it if you have the opportunity. It’s more exciting, more stimulating and more rewarding than you might think. But make sure you join a company which has a forward-thinking, futureproofed and progressive outlook. I think that’s crucial.
If you’re on an apprenticeship or have a week in a junior STEM role like I was, ask lots of questions and keep a note of what you’re doing as you go. After six months you’ll be able to reflect on it and realise how far you’ve come.
By asking questions and showing the initiative, you’ll learn which can set you up for life.
And lastly, be communicative about your problems, and reach out to help other people when you need to. It’s the team environment that makes manufacturing such a special industry to be in.
If you’re interested in taking on an apprenticeship at Encirc, register your interest here: www.encirc360.com/careers/