Nadia Abbas is a Success Coach working in North London; she is the only female Success Coach in British Gas S&R Ops. We caught up with Nadia to have a chat about her ten years with British Gas and how she has embraced her role in such a male orientated team.
Why did you decide to become an engineer?
"As a child I always enjoyed working hands-on. My dad would take me to building sites with him or get me to help with building work at home, he had no sons and I was willing! As I grew up I carried on, building wardrobes or fitting a kitchen I’d turn my hand to anything. When it came time to choose a career I wanted to have a hands-on job, and so I thought about becoming a gas engineer. That’s what I did and I’ve never looked back."
How do customers perceive you?
"I joined British Gas ten years ago and upgraded to a Technical Engineer after a year. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the challenges of the job, working with some fantastic engineers and customers. Over the years, I think that customer’s reactions to having a female engineer turn up at their door has changed, as there are more and more females in the industry now. I don’t believe that I was treated different to the guys, (other than the initial surprise). I think that customers base their opinion on whether you can do a good job, so confidence and communication played a large part in their perception of me. As for my colleagues, they have always treated me as one of the guys, which I have always appreciated."
Was it a big step to become a Success Coach?
"Just over a year ago a colleague of mine, who is a Success Coach, suggested I apply and was a great support to me during that process. I am really enjoying the role. It has its challenges and can force you outside of your comfort zone, but that can only be a good thing! We work with so many great people, who all have different things that they bring to the job. And hopefully, having a female within the team brings its own differences. I have been called ‘Mum’ on more than one occasion. The role means that I get to work with the people that I can relate to the most, the engineers and the customers."
Did you feel there were any boundaries because you are female?
"No, definitely not. If anything, my dilemma was what to wear to the interview as I didn't want to stand out for being female, in my uniform I blend in as one of the guys, but it was smart dress on the day not uniform. I would encourage any female engineers to aspire to promotion. I think women have different ways of communicating and getting their point across."
What about the future?
"Working for British Gas has been great. I have always been part of great teams, some of whom will be friends for life. I love being a Success Coach and maybe one day I would like to be a Service Manager, but for now I enjoy being out and about fixing things, rather than predominantly office based. A career in British Gas as an engineer offers a fantastic future for your son’s or daughter’s. My son has also joined the company as an apprentice. He is enjoying the work and doing well with his training, and he is looking forward to a bright future. I couldn’t be a prouder mum!"
John Lochrie, Operations Director, commented, "Shaping the future of gender diversity in S&R Ops is extremely important to me, and in British Gas we are at our best when we recognise our individuality as well as using our understanding of gender diversity to create winning teams. The Success Coach role offers all our engineering population a great opportunity to provide on the job coaching improve the whole job performance of our field based engineer workforce whilst providing strong development and career progression for the coaches and Nadia is a brilliant example of this."