Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day with Emma Farr
blog 23 Jun 2022
Thursday 23rd June 2022 marks International Women in Engineering Day - an annual celebration by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) designed to raise the profile of women in engineering.
The latest figures show that 16.5% of engineers are women but it is hoped that events such as this will help to encourage more women to consider careers in engineering.
At Sunbelt Rentals, we have a shining example of a highly successful female Engineer. Emma Farr is a Senior Contract Engineer working for the Trakway side of our business. Based in Scotland, she’s been with the company for over 16 years, having joined Eve Trakway when she was just 17 years old.
When Emma first left school, she hoped to become a Police Officer but after attending an open day she was told that to have a real chance of joining the police force, she should get some life experience first.
In Emma’s eyes, she was going to get a job and some experience before applying to the police in a few years’ time. At the time, she was learning to drive and lived in a rural Scottish location, so she was primarily searching for local jobs.
She spotted a job advertisement for an Admin Assistant at Eve Trakway. Emma had an interest in off road motorbikes and she actually thought that ‘trakway’ had something to do with that. She was interviewed by the Regional Manager who is still her Line Manager today and started work in May which coincided with the start of the busy events season.
She told us: “I soon realised what the trakway industry was all about! With only three of us working from the office at that time, I adapted quickly to the various job functions including customer services, accounts, transport, dealing with crews and learning about the various markets sectors we operate in, such as events, transmission and industrial.
There was always something new to learn and I had a desire to learn as much as I possibly could - even how to throw straps over a truck. I wanted to prove to myself that I could - it took a few attempts, but I did it!Emma Farr, Senior Contract Engineer, Sunbelt Rentals
As Emma progressed and the business grew, her role changed numerous times and she went from Admin Assistant to Hire Desk Controller, to Account Manager, National Account Manager, Contract Engineer and her current role of Senior Contract Engineer.
“I have no desire to leave the industry. Every day is different and that’s what I love about my job. One day I could be on a remote hillside looking at a new project, the next I could be managing a team at a festival/stadium site and the next I could be in the office or out in the truck. It’s a challenging and demanding role, often with long days and lots of driving but the variety keeps it fresh,” Emma added.
Emma’s role as a Senior Contract Engineer involves taking projects from enquiry stage right through to execution. She spends a great deal of time with customers, ascertaining their requirements and providing them with an engineered solution, compiling project packs containing drawings, risk assessments, method statements, lift plans and load calculations before putting the build together and finally delivering the project on site.
Emma has been involved in securing and delivering some of the largest and most prestigious projects ever delivered by Sunbelt Rentals, travelling across the UK and occasionally Europe. These include the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in 2014 across 21 venues, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and even the Ryder Cup in Paris in 2018. Since Emma had her Daughter in 2019, she doesn’t tend to travel quite so extensively, mainly travelling within Scotland and Northern England, however her role hasn’t changed.
So how does Emma manage her work/life balance as a Mum? She told us: “Finding the right balance as a full-time working Mum isn’t easy, particularly during the summer period which is exceptionally busy and often results in very long days with early starts and late finishes which can be difficult to juggle with childcare commitments. Fortunately, this period is relatively short lived and lasts from around May to September each year.
“Occasionally we can work from home or finish a bit earlier which is an added bonus and lets me spend more time with my Daughter. Mum guilt is very real, but I want to set a good example to my Daughter and be her role model now and for many years to come.”
Engineering is typically perceived as a male-dominated industry, so has Emma encountered any obstacles during her career so far? She said: “In the early days of my career, it was more noticeable. If I was attending a site visit with a male colleague, the client would always levitate towards them. I’ve even been asked before ‘when is your boss arriving?’, only for them to get a bit of a shock when they find out it’s usually just me. Thankfully over the years I have built up some exceptional relationships with our clients and the issues are much fewer.”