Women in engineering
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For our women in engineering series, we recently caught up with Anita Main, Continuous Improvement & Development Lead at Aliaxis UK, to hear about her experience within engineering and manufacturing.

What does a typical day at work look like?
As the Continuous Improvement & Development Lead, I have two main roles: ensuring people are happy and working safely – safety is a number one priority for Aliaxis - and making sure we are profitable. To achieve these goals, communication is key for me. I have a lot of daily meetings with people from all over the business, from understanding what is going on in production to making sure problems are solved quickly and efficiently by the right people.  

What is the most exciting part about your job?
For me, it’s seeing the changes Aliaxis is making as a company, from processes to how they care for their employees, and seeing how my colleagues are all very excited and positive about these changes. 

What did you want to do when you were at school? And how or why did you choose manufacturing as a career path?
I actually wanted to work in a role that helped people, so at one point I considered being a nurse. However, I found that manufacturing and creation was where my passion really lay and as such, I ended up doing an engineering course in college.

I wasn’t really interested in going to University, which is why after college I started working in the world of manufacturing straight away and I’ve never looked back. I feel so lucky to be in a career that I truly enjoy. 

What inspires you about manufacturing?
I’m so fascinated by how things are made and I’m always curious. At first, I thought plastic piping wouldn’t be so exciting, but then I saw the concepts, the materials and all of the work that goes into manufacturing pipe solutions and I was blown away. I also find it extremely exciting that the solutions we create are used all over the world – it’s amazing!

What are the biggest misconceptions that women have about working in manufacturing?
As engineering and manufacturing is very male-orientated, some people think that women will struggle to be heard – but that’s not the case. The industry is changing and at Aliaxis, everyone’s thoughts and ideas are valued, no matter your gender. 

What are some of the main challenges for women working in manufacturing today?
I think, whilst there are some misconceptions about manufacturing today, I can hand-on-heart say that so much has changed since I went to college; it’s so different. At college, I was the only woman on my engineering course, as women weren’t really encouraged to work in manufacturing environments. But now, there’s more and more opportunities available for women and it’s so exciting. 

What are your hopes for the future of manufacturing?
I would love to see more women on the shop floor – and as the world is changing, I’m sure we will soon! I’d also love to see the work and processes I’m introducing to our site in Huntingdon become standardised across the UK and in Europe – it’s a collaborative effort. 

What would you say to girls in school/college who may be considering manufacturing as a career choice/study option?
Come on in! If you’re interested, there is no stopping you. There is a real opportunity for everyone, and perceptions and attitudes are changing – it’s the perfect time to start your career in engineering and manufacturing.  

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about entering the manufacturing field for the first time?
Go into it with open eyes and see what it’s all about. There’s a lot of opportunities and it’s a great industry to get into. If you are curious and love to create, then do it. You’ll build brilliant relationships, too!

Why did you choose Aliaxis? 
The job overall attracted me, as there was so much room for opportunity, growth and making the role my own. I’ve genuinely never been so happy, and the support and development that is provided by Aliaxis is great. It is a company that is truly invested in the growth of its employees. 

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