Myrtle Dawes shares the secrets of her success

Hear how Myrtle, who is a Chartered Chemical Engineer, has thrived in the energy and services sector

Myrtle, who is a Chartered Chemical Engineer, has 25 years’ experience in the sector. Having worked at Centrica for nearly a decade, Myrtle has taken on an array of jobs – from being one of the first black female offshore engineers in the North Sea to driving digital transformation to improve customer experience.

Before joining Centrica, Myrtle said: “Life was good but I wasn’t satisfied with my career. I made a deliberate choice to test myself and reach for the unknown.”

It wasn’t always easy.  “For a girl that hates flying, travelling by helicopter to offshore oil and gas platforms was challenging. You also had to do a survival test every four years so that you’d know what to do in an emergency. You’d get into a survival suit, into a helicopter and into a swimming pool, before being turned upside down several times and find your escape route through the window. This was not my idea of a good time…but key to being able to do my role!” 

There were good times too. “I’ve seen some great places in my career - in Norway I saw icebergs floating by as I helped build an ice-strengthened ship and went wildlife-watching in South Australia”.

Turning attention to her current role, she added: “As Director of Planning and Dispatch in UK Field Operations, I’m now largely based in Stockport.  I lead a team of over 1,200 people and am accountable for the full spectrum of strategic and operational planning – from boiler breakdowns, fitting Smart meters to Hive installations.  This helps us successfully complete around 11 million customer visits each year.”

Talking of the key to her success, Myrtle said: “I am courageous enough to thrive by being myself. I have always felt able to be me, and Centrica has been supportive in helping me do that. Another positive force that has helped me get to where I am today, has to be my teachers at school. Only CSE’s were being offered at my school but my teachers tutored me after school so that I could do my O-Levels.”

This left a lasting impression on Myrtle. “As a result, I’ve always had a soft spot for those who work in public service. But it also showed me the benefits of seeing beyond my own goals, which is why I now volunteer as a STEM ambassador. I want to inspire young women to become the engineers of the future.”

In 2017, Myrtle received recognition for her contribution to business, having featured in Breaking the Glass Ceiling and being selected as one of 100 Women to Watch in the Cranfield FTSE Board Report 2017. This builds on other achievements, including being elected to the Institution of Chemical Engineer’s Board in 2016 and securing a place in the 2014 Black British Business Awards final.