Anna Tarbuck is Director of Product Development at Fernox – a company that operates in the male-dominated sector of plumbing and gas engineering.

We asked her about her career, what brought her into this sector, and her thoughts on being a woman in a technical role.

After an early career in PR and Marketing, Anna joined Air Products in their Marcomms department. After a couple of years she realised she wanted to get more involved developing strategy for a business.  A role came up for European Marketing Manager for the Food segment – previously this had only been given to those with an engineering or sales background (all male too).  “I really wanted this job so spent hours on my presentation and research and thankfully managed to convince the hiring manager that I was the one for the job. To start with that role was challenging; not just the technical nature of the role, but more the fact that I was young and female in a predominantly male environment.  I had to convince a lot of highly qualified engineers and technicians that I had an equal contribution to make. However, I learned quite quickly that you just have to believe in yourself and be assertive. “

14 years later Anna joined Fernox as Product Management Director. Not only was it a new role, it was also a completely new industry for her. She joined just as Fernox started work on the TF1 Omega Filter.  “This was my first product launch and it was one of the most exciting I’ve done. We spent considerable time talking to our customers through focus groups and interviews to make sure that the final design was fit for purpose and offered something new to the market.  We focused on designing out weaknesses and making it as small, smart and simple as possible – this was the start of the ‘lidless’ concept. It has been such a success that we have used the same ‘lidless’ technology and know-how to develop the TF1 Sigma Filter, made out of advanced engineered polymer. “

It is important to recognise the vital skills and different perspectives we bring as women into the science sector. It is true that it is still male dominated, but the environment is definitely changing for the better and I see more and more women reaching senior positions, which is how it should be. For any young women at the beginning of their career my advice would be: Believe in yourself and never underestimate the value of your opinion.