Meet Alicia - a graduate engineer

Alicia joined our graduate scheme as an electrical engineer in September 2012. Here she talks about her experiences and how the job has taken her further than she ever thought possible – quite literally.

When deciding which jobs I wanted to apply for after leaving university, I knew that working for a global company like GSK would present lots of opportunities. I haven’t been proved wrong.

Since joining, I have been given the time to explore different areas, go on training courses, and take on challenges that I feel are developing me professionally and personally.  But perhaps most notably of all, I’m currently working half-way across the world.

I joined GSK in September 2012. Initially, I worked at our factory in Irvine. There, I learnt about high voltage equipment and operations and helped with some electrical projects. But within six months, I was dispatched to Panama. I’m now running electrical projects to help improve standards in the factory.

There’s no such thing as a typical day. But I spend a lot of my time meeting with contractors to talk about work they are doing, supervising electrical testing, and assess some of our equipment, like transformers. I also work on other projects such as earthing at the factory. When you are working to manufacture a medicine that it is going to help people, you need to make sure the factory making it is running smoothly.

This kind of job is one that I’d wanted since I was very young. At school, I loved scientific subjects and maths. It really annoys me not knowing how stuff works, so when I discovered that as an engineer I could find some of those answers, it seemed like the natural choice.

I’ve often been in the minority, but it’s great to see more women getting into engineering now.  It offers so much as a career and to have more women in the profession could only be beneficial. At GSK, the number of female engineers hired has risen by 7% in 2011 to 14% in 2012. Engineers can join us at all levels of their career from students on industrial placements to apprentices, graduates and senior managers.

So far, I’ve had a fantastic experience as an electrical engineer, and I’m sure that will continue. My project in Panama finishes soon and my placements next year include a stint working in automation. It’s great to get a chance to experience other areas of engineering – the field is so varied that you could spend your whole life learning and you still wouldn’t know everything.