National Women in Engineering Day

Holly Butterfield, one of our Gatwick engineers on Women in Engineering Day

We’re proud to have a diverse team of people working with us, and we always like the chance to celebrate them. As June 23 is National Women in Engineering day, we want to introduce you to one of our female engineers, who chatted to us about how she got into a career that’s typically been dominated by men.

We met 21 year old Holly Butterfield, one of our engineering Technicians at our Gatwick Hangar. She’s just been working on G-VRAYs brake pads, so she apologises for being covered in brake dust – although you wouldn’t notice. Having joined us four years ago straight from school, we asked her how she knew at such a young age that she wanted to become an engineer: ‘I always liked studying Physics and Science, but knew that I always wanted to do a job that was really hands on. My Dad is an engineer, so I think that sparked my interest in it as a career’. For Holly, being able to study Maths, Physics, Aerodynamics, maintenance practices and more was the perfect combination, along with being able to do a job that was really hands on.

She says the Hangar is a different world from the all-girls school she went to, but she wouldn’t want it any other way: ‘The team here are so supportive and continue to help me with my development as I progress through my career’. Holly also told us that women wanting to become engineers shouldn’t be put off by working in a more male environment, saying: ‘Never feel like you’ll be judged on your gender, or let that put you off a career in engineering. My team are fantastic and we’re all treated the same way’. Although for Holly, being one of the shorter members of the team, with small hands, it does mean she’s able to pick up some of the more fiddly jobs! As Holly is on the petite side, her friends from school would joke that they didn’t think she’d be ‘strong enough’ to do the same tasks as the guys on her team, but we know that’s not the case.

So what type of work does Holly like doing as an engineer? Whilst at Virgin Atlantic, Holly’s had the chance to work on The Line, which is the more operational side of engineering: ‘There’s a huge difference between working on The Line and at The Hangar. The Line is really reactive, and you’re dealing with a lot of aircraft in one day as they come in and fly out to their next destination. Working at the Hangar gives me the opportunity to focus on one or two aircraft a day on more specific tasks, which I personally really enjoy’. Working at the Hangar gives her the opportunity to work on every part of an aircraft from the tyres to the top of the tailfin. With the tailfin reaching over 60 feet off the ground it’s a good job she doesn’t suffer from vertigo! Holly also told us that she really enjoys sheet metal work and jumps at the chance to do this if a job comes into the Hangar.

We asked Holly what advice her Dad, Lee, our Head of Technical Operations gave her when she told him she’d decided to choose engineering as a career, to which Holly said: ‘Apart from being a bit surprised at first, Dad always told me to be keen, helpful and willing to learn. I think the best advice he gave was to have the confidence to put yourself forward to learn something new, and I’m so lucky that I’ve got an experienced team here to learn so much from’.

About Maja Edgren-Carter

Maja is a contributor to Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. She has worked at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays over the past 10 years. She’s loves to travel and learn about the new people she gets to meet along the way. Maja’s aim is to share the heart of Virgin Atlantic with you.
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