Jacky Ingram – ESD
Jacky Ingram is passionate about creating more opportunities for women and girls in civil engineering. In our final blog for #INWED21, we hear about Jacky Ingram’s journey from Chemical Engineer to Regional Commissioning Manager at ESD.
What does your job involve?
Process commissioning is the art of breathing life into a set of connected pieces of equipment to allow them to perform a function greater than each item. In my case making river water safe to drink and treating sewage.
I am proud to manage a commissioning team, which in the construction industry remains strongly male dominated. Commissioning attracts people with electrical or mechanical backgrounds and must be done on site, often in remote places far from home, making it unattractive to most women as a career.
How did a female Chemical Engineer end up managing commissioning?
Process commissioning involves classic process optimisation, so that was my entry point, and it must be planned well in advance, which I also became involved with. I became fascinated with how people bring a plant to life and started work as a Process Support Engineer.
That makes it sound easy but, although my company was supportive, many barriers still existed. Working on construction sites at a time when most of them did not even have women’s’ toilets – “Sorry love, we don’t get many ladies, so we don’t hire a ladies’ unit” ……
So, what were some of the challenges you experienced pursuing your career?
Convincing a team of construction workers that I knew my stuff well enough that they ought to listen to me was a challenge. Working away from home when my children were young, posed challenges too – fortunately, my first long stint away was when they were teenagers; until then it had been up to two weeks away and my wonderful husband took up the slack at home.
What’s some of the highlights of your career?
The highlight of my career so far is being one of only six managers who set up a new Joint Venture, ESD, to provide £700m of Scottish Water’s capital investment over a six-year period. I was able to establish the commissioning team and procedures as I thought they should be arranged. Six years later, the team is a great success.
How have you helped other women work in this field?
I have encountered few women who wanted to take on the commissioning challenge, but I have been able to encourage some to try it, mostly they are design engineers who come out to site for some experience. I employed one woman who carried on in commissioning with another company and, recently, a process scientist with the aim of turning her into a process commissioning engineer – unfortunately, COVID got in the way and she is now in design. I keep trying!