Senior Technical Officer, Network Rail
Who are you and what is your current job?
I am Shingai Mutukwa, I work for Network Rail, the rail infrastructure owner. I currently work in track maintenance as a Senior Technical Officer.
How old are you?
Where are you from?
I grew up in Zimbabwe, and now live in Stevenage.
Do you have any unusual hobbies?
I have recently taken up rollerblading; I am not very steady on my feet yet.
What were your favourite, and least favourite subjects at school?
My favourite subjects were physics and history. My least favourite was Religious Education.
What first interested you about engineering?
I enjoyed physics in high school and wanted to work in a field that incorporated the same fundamentals. I was interested by the practical nature of a career in engineering, the endless career possibilities that a degree in mechanical engineering offered and the possibility of travelling.
Why do you think there is still such a low percentage of female engineers?
I think engineering is still vastly seen as a man's world. However, being a female engineer has opened doors for me - as there are so few women in the rail industry I think it gives me a competitive edge!
What's a typical day at work like for you?
A typical day for me is spent on site. I undertake various inspections on a daily basis, e.g. checking buffer stops and examining switches. I also spend time in the office preparing my teams fortnightly work plan and updating various databases.
Who's your engineering hero?
I have two heroes: the person who invented GHD hair straighteners and Isambard Brunel! Brunel was a visionary.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
I enjoy working on site, knowing that the work I do keeps my little part of the rail network safe hence the wider network moving.
Have you met interesting people through engineering?
Yes, I have made a life long friend through work, as well as the world expert in rolling contact fatigue who was able to explain the concept to me so I could actually understand it!
What motto do you live your life by?
'Kaizen' - in Japanese philosophy it means 'continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life'.
What are your favourite:
Film: Finding Nemo
Book: Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom"
Song: Jennifer Hudson "If This Isn't Love"
If you were an animal what would you be?
I would be a panther, strong and beautiful.
If you were invisible for a day what would you do?
I would go to the Top Gear track and find out the identity of 'The Stig!'
What do you say to someone who says engineering is a man's job?
This is the 21st Century, things have moved on since women had designated job templates. I can do any job a man can do and deliver equivalent or better results.
What do you think will get more women interested in engineering?
I think revamping the image of engineering, moving away from the false impression that there is physical work involved in every engineering job, and highlighting the glamorous and rewarding aspects of the job.