Women in Engineering: Kate Turner’s Q&A on her rise to success

We are excited to be celebrating International Women in Engineering Day. It’s a day dedicated to raising the awareness of women in engineering and in other STEM industries, and to highlight the amazing career opportunities out there for young girls and women. 

We sat down with Kate Turner, Head of Service Design at DB Cargo, to find out how she rose to the top in the UK’s leading freight rail company. 

Kate has dominated her industry and career, she started out as an apprentice at the age of 18 and progressed to the Head of Service Design within just six years.

We wanted to share Kate’s story because it’s truly inspiring to young girls out there who want to go into a STEM related-career, or who have never even thought about how rewarding a career could be in these industries.

How did you start your career in the rail industry?

My career started in the rail industry when I was 18 years old, I had just finished my A-levels, achieving three A*s and applied to many universities, who all offered me a place.

But I also applied for a planning and resource apprenticeship with DB Schenker, now DB Cargo. I had my interview on my 18th birthday in June 2012 and joined the company in July 2012.

I since have passed through many roles and worked exceedingly hard which resulted in me, at the age of 22, becoming the youngest head of a department in DB Cargo. I am now responsible for 40 employees as Head of Service Design.

What do you love about STEM sectors?

The STEM industry is a fantastic way to interact and communicate our messages to the next generation, whether that be rail, engineering or any other industry.

I want to give something back to the rail industry and ensure that through presentations, school visits or any other communication, the message is brought to life about what fantastic opportunities there are available within STEM industries, which could be seen as hidden industries.


Have you faced many challenges in your work because of your gender?

None for gender-related challenges, although when I first started with the company, I was one of the first apprentices and at 18 years old I stood out massively.

Through striving to achieve the best and ensuring that I continue to build strong lasting relationships with all my networks; I have managed to overcome each challenge.


What can educators and employers do to attract more women into STEM careers?

I believe in ensuring successful women are delivering their message through STEM / Women in rail / Everywoman events; to do so organisations need to allow these employees, who are willing to deliver their story and message, time to inspire others.

I am a huge fan of apprenticeships. I believe women are initially drawn to further education but if apprenticeships result in the same if not similar qualifications as well as real-life work experience then this is the way forward.


What advice would you give to a woman or a young girl looking at going into a STEM career?

Challenge yourself.

Nerves are good.

Be yourself.

Ask lots of questions.

Network and build strong relationships with everyone you meet.


Who inspires you and why?

I have had some fantastic leaders throughout my seven-year career. These people have pushed me to achieve and to be the best leader I can. Without these people taking a risk on me at such a young age; I wouldn’t be where I am today.




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