In Maria’s second blog, which documents her training & development journey, she highlights the importance of having a strong work ethic and passion.

As far as Maria Lopez from Broanmain Plastics is concerned, the issue of encouraging more women into the plastics industry stems from giving potential applicants – male and female – a good insight to the exciting career opportunities and development opportunities on offer.

Coming from a family of engineers, Maria asserts that her home country of Spain, and other Western European countries don’t encounter anything close to the gender bias that’s deemed prevalent in the UK. “Every single person I studied Chemical Engineering alongside has secured a job as an engineer. That’s the norm in Spain. I actually believe that it took me a little longer to secure a job, not because of my gender but my ability to express myself clearly in English. Demonstrating the right work ethic is I feel most important.”

Maria believes that graduate and postgraduate engineers, regardless of sector, should be prepared to start at the bottom, get involved and work hard. That, she says, is how we best learn and progress. “In injection moulding, you have to be committed to the process and why something is happening to the product you are trying to mould. It requires a good amount of patience, as the answer won’t always be immediately obvious.”

Passion for your work and a genuine interest in bettering your knowledge are also qualities that Maria says are vital in her job. “I love the day to day challenges that comes with my job. With the right attitude and commitment to work hard and learn, anything is possible,” exclaims Maria whose rapid progression from trainee to production supervisor in under a year is testament to the responsibilities available to entrants with the right attitude.

Describing Broanmain as “a really good place to work”, Maria is encouraged by the developments that are unfolding in the plastics industry right now. “Given the bad press that plastics is getting right now there are lots of opportunities for skilled and professional people. The search for environmental solutions means that there are so many different agendas to tackle, opening up jobs in new research areas, such as understanding new materials and biodegradable plastics. There are literally thousands of career paths available once you have your foot in the door,” stresses Maria.

Nigel Flowers, MD of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag UK has been observing Maria’s training journey at the company’s Cogent-approved Daventry Academy closely and concurs: “In today’s advanced plastics sector, the workforce needs to have an equal measure of specialist technical skills coupled with broader IT, science and engineering capabilities to support the level of innovation needed to bring new solutions to market.”

The Sumitomo (SHI) Academy offers five different course levels. Maria has completed the entire programme in 12 months. Praising her dedication to the courses, Academy trainer Darren Vater Hutchison comments: “Within 18 months, a trainee with little or no knowledge of injection moulding processes can gain an advanced knowledge – half the time it takes to complete a degree. The level of complexity increases incrementally with each course.”

Next time … Maria deepens her expertise.

To read blog 1 where Maria describes how she mastered the basics, click below:

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