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08/03/2019 Latest News

Meet Mary Whinnery, Bio LPG Product Manager on #InternationalWomensDay

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. To celebrate we interviewed Bio LPG Product Manager Mary Whinnery to find out what is it like being an engineer at Calor. 

When did you decide you wanted to become an engineer? What piqued your interest in the area?

Mary: “I was interested in engineering from a young age, I left high school earlier than most, before my A-Levels, and started in the local technical college at sixteen years of age. I was confident about my choice then and still feel the same way now, being an engineer has opened doors to so many roles and paths to success for me.”

Did you study any courses in school which raised an interest in engineering?  Was there a particular teacher that encouraged you?

Mary: “I loved science, maths and art in high school, and it was my Guidance Councillor who connected the dots and suggested engineering to me. Engineering allowed me to strengthen my knowledge of these subjects through further education and to this day I apply this knowledge in the work place every day.  I really have never looked back since the day I started to study engineering, (a couple of decades ago now!).” 

Where did you go to College?

Mary: “I studied at North Down Regional College and achieved a GNVQ and then a HND in Mechanical and Electrical engineering. I then went on to Ulster University and achieved a BSc in Technology and Design with distinction. The University was close to my home town and I loved being able to work part-time while completing my studies. I recently returned to the University and graduated again with a Master’s in Business Development and Innovation.”   

How did you become an Engineer?

Mary: “When I was studying for my BSc, there was an option to complete a one year work experience placement, which took me to Calor. I had a fantastic year there, and as the year came to a close, I was offered a job with the company when I graduated. 10 years later I am still working for Calor and have spent some time in most department functions completing different roles.” 

What is an average day like?

Mary: “I agree, every day is different. In my current role, I travel between Calor Belfast, Dublin and Amsterdam offices weekly.”

What is it like being part of the engineering team at Calor?

Mary: “I have worked in a variety of roles in Calor from design to installation, to project planning to sales and even marketing as an engineer. I am currently working on my most exciting role to date, which is as a product manager for Calor and our parent company SHV Energy. Now I am leading a European project to launch a brand new renewable fuel - BioLPG. I’m fortunate in that I get to travel a lot with around Ireland and Europe, currently I cover six countries providing guidance and support.”

What do you think is the biggest challenge being an engineer?

Mary: “As an engineer you are expected to know all the answers, which is both a challenge and ultimately a positive. It pushes you to constantly learn and stay up to date with an ever evolving industry. Ten years ago BioLPG would have been considered impossible, and today it’s my day job.”  

What has been the most rewarding point of your career to date?

Mary: “As I said earlier, no two days are the same. In fact in a previous role with Calor, I worked on the Games of Throne TV Set. When I saw the scenes that we assisted on air on screen, I was so proud of my team for delivering something which, at one point, seemed impossible.”

Do engineers see the world differently do you think?

Mary: “I think that this question could be asked of a really wide range of professions, but in my mind, the answer is yes. Because of the discipline we’re in, I find that my brain is wired to always look for solutions. Problems should always be seen as opportunities, and not as barriers to progress.”

What advice would you give to those who might be considering engineering as a career?

Mary: “If you like thinking about new ways to do things, fixing existing problems or designing or building things, engineering could be the right fit for you. There are so many opportunities within engineering, be open to all the doors that could be opened to you as a result, and don’t fix your sights on any very specific part of the engineering discipline too early.”