Jan Ward, CEO, Corrotherm International

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Jan-Ward-Corrotherm 

How did you get into manufacturing and engineering?

I started out in sales and marketing, but I wanted to travel, so I got an international trade qualification. I then worked as managing director for an engineering company, and I found I really wanted to understand the technical side of the job. Beyond a periphery knowledge, I wanted to have an in-depth understanding of how every aspect of the engineering and calculations so I could be better at my job. That’s how I decided to get my engineering qualifications.

 

What is your job today?

I had always known I wanted to run my own company, ever since I opened my first business at 19 years old. So it seemed natural that I went on to open my own manufacturing business, Corrotherm International, in 1992. We supply heat and corrosion resistant metals, particularly focusing on the oil and gas industry.

I also serve as a director and board member for several international organisations and companies, including Energy and Utility Skills and the Saudi Joint British Business Councils.

 

What is the best part of your job?

Taking an inexperienced, untrained employee and developing them into an accomplished person is incredibly rewarding.

Also, people tend to think of arts and media when they think of creative jobs. However, you have to be incredibly imaginative to be an engineer. I think that’s a perspective that’s really missing when young people are given career advice.

 

What challenges have you overcome in your career?

Money. I’ve always been very careful with cash flow and keeping the accounts up to date.

In terms of being a woman in manufacturing, there are probably were times someone made assumptions about me that I wasn’t aware of. However, I’ve never thought about it. I think sometimes the barriers are in our minds. I never thought there was something I couldn’t tackle.

 

What advice would you have for women thinking of a career in manufacturing?

You can’t do anything more interesting. The work is extremely varied – you can do practically anything you like, from focusing on operations to inventing things to processes to the production floor.  

It’s different than working at a service organisation; if you want to manage a manufacturing business, you really need to understand how the process of creating the product works.

And there’s something very rewarding about creating something very tangible.

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