Inspiring young women to become the engineers of the future

Myrtle Dawes

By Myrtle Dawes
Transformation Director for Customer Planning and Field Operations

From being one of the first black female offshore engineers in the North Sea, to her current role as Transformation Director for Customer Planning and Field Operations, Myrtle shares her career journey.

How did you get into your role?

I was working for a mining company when I decided to make a career change. My work was good but there weren’t enough opportunities for progression or challenges for me. I decided to test myself and reach for the unknown – that’s why I took a job in Centrica in Norway building a project team that would be responsible for billions of pounds-worth of oil and gas production.

Now I work at Centrica as transformation director for customer planning and field operations, giving strategic direction for a team of more than 1,200 people.

What do you love most about your job?

I’ve been lucky enough to go to some great places in my career and see some breath-taking sights. In Norway I saw icebergs floating by as I helped build a ship strengthened against ice and I’ve also been wildlife-watching in South Australia.

But it isn’t just the travel I’ve enjoyed – leading a team is also really rewarding, especially when we are able to work together to help customers across the country. Each year Centrica successfully complete around 11 million customer visits, from boiler breakdowns to fitting smart meters and installing Hive technology, and it’s wonderful to know we’ve helped so many people.

Day to day, the most rewarding thing about my job is the people I work with, from the accountants to the fleet of engineers, they are all really fantastic people.

What has inspired you the most in your career?

My teachers at school were a positive force that helped me get where I am today. It wasn’t just about the exams, but the extra tutoring they gave me and the encouragement to be ambitious. They taught me the benefit of seeing beyond my own goals and that’s why I now volunteer as a STEM ambassador. I want to inspire young women to become the engineers of the future.

What advice would you give women who are new to the sector?

You will shine if you’re a team player and ask questions – nothing is too stupid! And test yourself, too. I hate flying but at one time I made regular helicopter trips to different oil rigs. To make it worse, once every four years we had to practice a drill that involved escaping from an upside-down helicopter that was submerged in water! It was a challenge but allowed me to do more in my career – and made me think, if I can do that, I can do anything.