Becky Shuck: InstallerSPOTLIGHT Series

The InstallerSHOW Spotlight Series
In association with Grundfos

Over the coming weeks, our host Jess Shanahan will be profiling influential figures in the industry and hearing their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities they have faced in their careers. Watch or listen to the full interviews below.

In the latest of our interviews about the opportunities and challenges for women in the industry, we meet Becky Shuck, Business Development Manager at Grundfos.

Becky is another of those who found herself in the heating industry by accident, she says: “After my A-levels, I didn’t particularly know what I wanted to do, but I noticed quite a big advertisement in our local paper where they were developing a new heating spares company. I was really intrigued.”

She got something of a surprise when she went along to the interview and realised that as a woman, she was clearly outnumbered: “I realised that there were about 15 male members of staff, but rather than being put off, I thought, ‘This is what I want to do – I want to try to succeed in a male-dominated business!… On the trade counter, you would always get the engineers that would come in and say, can I speak to one of the lads? But we were the ‘lads’!”

But from that point she worked her way up in the industry, including running an award-winning business of her own, before reaching Grundfos.

Being part of the industry in the early days, Becky faced her fair share of challenges in the male dominated environment: “I think it was partly a lack of confidence and some of the comments were a bit sexualised, so that made for quite a difficult environment, but it just made me stronger and more determined.”

However, that was then. Now it’s clear that the dial has shifted for women in the industry, she says: “Everything’s changed. There’s so many more women and it’s now the norm to have women on the trade counters. I think everyone’s attitude has changed.”

Becky’s own heating business was also a bit of a ground-breaker in its own right in the Midlands, with its all-women workforce – and it clearly caught the imagination of the local newspaper in Redditch:

“They wrote quite a few articles about how we three local ladies were taking on the male industry,” she says. “I think we filled a gap in the market, as there weren’t any heating spares companies within Redditch, but we also wanted to make our business a little bit different. So we all made friends with the wives of the engineers and took them to the races and built a sort of a family community. I’m so proud of what we achieved.”

Becky rates the biggest change now around women as simply ‘the attitude’: “Customers no longer ask to speak to one of the lads and women now actually want to get into these roles and enjoy them.”

Grundfos is also helping to drive change as a company, with a diversity road map and setting targets to match. The company currently has women in 25% of its leadership roles, along with some 50 female graduates, building an environment where women want to come to work for the company:

“The business is also creating opportunities for us,” she says. “They’ve paid for me to do a diploma, for instance. They’ve got a support mechanism in place to help you with that. There’s very much a family feel to Grundfos and we’ve got people that have worked for the company for 20 years or more, and they don’t want to leave. And because we get all of that support, not just professionally, but on a family basis, it encourages people to stay.”

At the other end of the career ladder, new starters are also enthused by the supportive environment, she adds. “They come to me and go ‘I can’t believe how good it is here!’ It’s great. And I think we’re all really open and transparent with each other too. You’ve always got someone to lean on.”

That isn’t to say though that everything is perfect yet for women entering the industry. For Becky, more help for women in identifying potential career paths would be an important step: “Clearly women do have the skill sets that that we need in the industry. But I feel that sometimes women probably don’t know about the particular career paths [into HVAC]. It is maybe a case of providing more learning platforms and giving colleges the opportunity to know what’s on offer – the skills competitions for women have been useful too to create interest. For those who are parents, I think that childcare costs also need to be addressed.”

Becky has some good advice for women who are looking to work in the industry: “You don’t have to choose a ‘traditional’ career path, you can go with whatever makes you happy! And I would add build a really good network, either with key suppliers or within the industry, and make sure you have a mentor to help you… literally every single manager that I’ve had has shared something with me that I’ve taken on board. With the colleagues that I’ve worked with and my customers, I’ve gained so much knowledge. I didn’t have much confidence to begin with, and now I’ve got loads more confidence and that’s down to feeling safe in the environment that I’m in.”

Speaking up is also something that Becky feels strongly about, through personal experience: “I would say ‘make sure that you always are assertive and that you share your ideas. I sometimes felt ‘I don’t want to say that just in case it sounds silly’. But in fact some of those ideas were the best ideas that I’ve ever had.”

And Becky has proved that she has grown in confidence too, in a perhaps surprising way: “I have just passed my maths GCSE. I didn’t know that much about maths before, but this has been about having the confidence and believing in myself, and trying hard things. Not everything comes easy. So you’ve got to push yourself.”

Becky Shuck will be appearing alongside other Spotlight panellists in a special discussion at InstallerSHOW on Thursday 27th in the Climate Solutions Theatre.
Register for your free ticket to InstallerSHOW, including the Spotlight panel discussion on day 3 HERE

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