Celebrating women in engineering

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we are shining the spotlight on some of the brilliant women and their work within our business.

The manufacturing industry is attracting more women than ever before, which is why we can innovate so well, by having more diversity within our talented workforce. We encourage being a diverse and inclusive workplace, embracing differences, creating possibilities and growing together for better business performance.

Leading by example in Croatia

(Left) Ana Soldo, General Manager for DS Smith Packaging Croatia, with Mirela Pavlović Šantalab, an engineer with 20 years of experience in the packaging industry

(Right) Mirela and Ana alongside fellow colleagues from the Croatian management team 

Croatia, one of the highest performing parts of the business, boasts a 60% female management team and a 40% female total workforce, compared to an average of 22% across DS Smith.  General Manager Ana Soldo nominated one of her female engineers, Mirela Pavlović Šantalab, Supply Chain Manager in Croatia, to tell her story. Originally from Koprivnica, and starting her career in Design, Mirela has worn many hats during her time at DS Smith.

  • What made you decide to become an Engineer?

During my high school education, technology started to move forward rapidly – and such quick development of technology has inspired me to get more knowledge and become an Engineer.

  • How did you work your way up from Design?

I like to say that my own “Supply Cycle” started in Design organisation of Bilokalnik 20 years ago, where I’ve started to work and have learned a lot about box construction and operations in the production. That experience helped me to learn how to plan Corrugator production and master production of packaging site, together with planning of finished goods shipping.

  • Have you received support and encouragement from DS Smith? 

Yes, DS Smith gave me great support. It enabled me to develop myself in different areas I didn`t even think about. I became an OWN IT! Ambassador, L&D facilitator and Pace Leader for my country. DS Smith management gave me an opportunity to develop my facilitating and coaching skills.

  • Is Ana a great role model?

Ana is certainly a great role model- organised, honest, determined, courageous, ambitious, focused and results oriented. She knows how to motivate employees, she is open in communication and determined in actions.

  • How does it feel to know you are now a role model to young girls wanting to join the manufacturing industry? What would your advice to them be?

It is a great honour and a real pleasure to be a role model. I would encourage all young girls to join the manufacturing industry and become Engineers. That job doesn`t make you different, but allows you to develop your skills and expertise and to be everything you want to be.  If there is a will and passion, there is always a way.

Mirela’s manager, Ana Soldo, commented: "Leadership is not a position or a title. It is behaviour, action and example. By inspiring others to learn, do and become more, with respect, hard work and care for each other, we build a team with deep passion, strong togetherness, trust and will to succeed. We build the best version of our people and our business."

Mirela is an excellent manager with high sense of responsibility for own delivery and performance, focused on task completion despite obstacles and with ability to positively face difficulties, building relationships, togetherness and confidence inside the team.

Making change in the UK

We continue to work in the UK to make manufacturing an increasingly attractive industry to join. This starts by educating students so that it helps them choose what courses to study and which careers to think about aiming for.

At our packaging plant in Launceston, encouragement of talent and potential is of paramount importance with Graduate schemes and Engineering Apprenticeships proving extremely successful. Lauren Carlyon (pictured) has been working at DS Smith Launceston for two years as a multi-skilled engineer.

Lauren commented: “I’ve always been interested in working on electrics. My daily week consists of a two day release St Austell Cornwall College and the rest of the week I work alongside our engineers learning fault-finding skills. I enjoy my apprenticeship, always working with machinery and learning new things.”

Engineering apprentice, Lauren Carlyon, discusses machinery plans with one of her engineering colleagues

We are also currently involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) days at schools, aimed at promoting manufacturing industry careers, specifically engineering, to females aged 14 – 16 years. We have been involved with group sessions promoting DS Smith and the work we do through innovation and design.  We would like to support this through the increase in female engineers across the business where they can develop their skills, add value and in turn shape a successful career.

The Apprenticeship Levy has made the industry more accessible to employees and is allowing us to attract the correct talent to our business. It is important we continue to attract a diverse talent pool and the engineering provision welcomes female employees to promote a successful and dynamic workforce to add value and support future success.