Yasmin Ali receiving her WES award from Professor Alice Roberts.

Introducing Yasmin Ali 2013 WES Prize winner

Yasmin, an operations engineer at E.ON, was awarded the 2013 Womens’ Engineering Society (WES) Prize for her career successes to date and her work promoting engineering careers to young people.

Yasmin began her engineering career seven years ago when she chose to study chemical engineering at Nottingham University. Before then, she’d been unsure about her career path and, having studied science and maths at A level, was planning to follow her parents into a career in medicine. However, a well-timed leaflet through her door introduced her to the idea of chemical engineering and she began to look into the sector and what it had to offer.

“I did a bit of ‘googling’ and chemical engineering seemed really interesting - there are so many different industries you can go into,” she explains. “I noticed there was a shortage of chemical engineers and it was quite a well-paid career option so, as I quite like to take risks, I thought why not!”

Working in E.ON’s oil and gas sector

After graduating, Yasmin completed E.ON’s two year engineering and leadership graduate scheme, where she worked in coal and gas fired power stations in the UK as well as on business expansion in Istanbul, Turkey.

On completing the scheme she joined E.ON Exploration and Production as an operations engineer. Here she’s taken part in, and led, a variety of projects, which have ranged from working out power requirements and purchasing a power unit for an offshore gas platform, to figuring out the optimum way to flow a new gas well.

“I’ve just started on a new project where we’ve discovered a gas field in the North Sea,” she says. “I’m working on the development team that looks at how to bring that from just being a gas field deep under the sea to bringing it back onshore and turning it into a useful product that we can fire our homes with.

Highlights of the job

“I really enjoy the practical aspect of my work,” she continues. “I’ve been offshore a few times and I’ve worked in power stations to see the equipment and figure out why things have broken. I really like that. You always get a sense of satisfaction when you’ve solved the problem. I also enjoy the teamwork as well. You never feel like you have the problem all to yourself as you’ve always got a lot of people around you and you help each other out.”

Yasmin also enjoys the variety this job offers her as well as the travel opportunities.

“The work is quite varied. My week isn’t just going into the office. Sometimes I’m in Aberdeen for a meeting, or sometimes I go offshore or go on a site visit and I meet lots of different people. There is a lot of travelling, but that’s something I really enjoy so I made it that way. As an engineer you can travel a lot if you want to. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in Aberdeen, but in the last few years I’ve also been to Norway, Algeria and, of course, Turkey,” she says.

A keen volunteer

As well as keeping herself busy with work, Yasmin is a keen volunteer and dedicates a lot of her time to promoting engineering careers at schools and career fairs through volunteer work with OPITO, Whynotchemeng and STEMNET. She’s also been arranging work experience placements for students at her company.

“We run work experience placements for the Social Mobility Foundation, which supports high achieving students from low income backgrounds to reach their potential,” Yasmin explains. “They were struggling to find engineering placements within London so I began to get involved. I’m now trying to get the younger graduates at E.ON involved as it’s a good way for them to get people management experience as well as learn more about the company,” she adds.

Winning the 2013 WES Prize

Yasmin is proud of her achievements to date and was very happy to be awarded the 2013 WES Prize.

“It’s going to give me a chance to promote engineering to even more people,” she enthuses. “I feel like I’m helping other people I guess, giving them a bit more of a choice. When I was 17 and thinking about what I wanted to do it was quite hard and I didn’t feel like I knew everything that was out there.

“It would have been great to have someone come in and talk about engineering – or any other careers – in an engaging way. I think a lot of older people do present but it is harder for someone young to relate to them, so I think it’s good for me, and the other finalists, to be going out and promoting engineering,” she concludes.

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