Jane Sommerville, Managing Director, Bowers and Jones Ltd

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Jane-Sommerville 

What is your job like?

I’m the Managing Director of a small company that manufactures roll tooling for the metal forming industry. The company has been around for 60 years and I’ve been here for four-and a half.  There has been quite a lot of change in the past few years as it used to be owned by large German company, but a year ago we went through a management buy-out. That created quite a bit of upheaval and demands placed on a small business.

Day to day I can get involved in absolutely everything, from sorting out enquiries to ordering transport. I wear an HR hat one day, a sales manager hat another and MD hat another.

 

What are the challenges you face?

My main challenge is time management, balancing work and home life.  Being a business woman, wife and mother can be challenging at times. In terms of the challenges of running a small engineering company, we faced the challenge of becoming independent from a larger organisation with support and backing that brings. These days we have daily challenges of cash management and business development.

 

What do you enjoy about working in manufacturing?

It’s wonderful to make a product that you can then see in real life. Whether it’s a street lamp or a car, I can trace that back to the metal products that went into it. I get to visit my customers and see how our products benefit that organisation.

 

How did you get into manufacturing?

I was always interested in technical things growing up. I was the kid who played with Lego. In school had an affinity for maths, science and engineering. I was selected at high school to go to an engineering summer school. That inspired me to go onto an engineering degree at university. From there, I won a place on the graduate management programme at British Steel.

 

What advice would you have for a woman considering manufacturing as a career?

It can be exceptionally rewarding. Being a woman can actually give you an opportunity to stand out. Often women can have more interpersonal skills and more empathy in certain situations, which can be an advantage to organisations, especially in leadership positions.

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