Jun 2024

Spotlight on Chartered: Nicole Jackson

In recognition of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), Jordanne Allsopp, IGEM’s Marketing Communications Co-ordinator, is speaking to women across the industry as they share their experiences of working in the gas sector.

As a senior leader at Cadent, Nicole Jackson, Head of Safety and Compliance and a Chartered Engineer, has faced gender-related challenges throughout her career.

She explains that there were instances in her early career where she felt she wasn’t taken seriously due to her gender. 

Nicole Jackson

Overcoming this, she said: “I have always relied on my work delivery to demonstrate my competence and my perseverance. The attitudes I have experienced are shifting, but if this mentality is experienced now, then I strongly advise people to seek support from others, as this is usually an isolated view.

 “As my career has developed, I do not face these attitudes anymore but with my current sense of confidence and strength I would not accept those views either. I am hoping that through the role modelling I do now that women will have more positive experiences as they move through the industry. I’m a huge advocate for trying to attract more girls and women to consider a career in engineering but I think there’s still this mindset of what an engineer is and what they do – namely being dirty- handed and working in a hole. People forget about all the aspects of engineering that are strategic, problem-solving and about using logic that aren’t necessarily the same as a technician.”

Nicole’s journey into the industry began after a stint in the RAF. She completed two years of training while studying for her A-Levels and was lined up to be sponsored through university.

However, a knee injury halted her Air Force career. She went on to study Systems Engineering at university, working for BAE Systems and National Grid in parallel. After finishing her studies, she joined National Grid’s graduate scheme in 2014, where she ran projects and learned about assurance and support operations.

 This set her up for her current role as the Head of Safety and Compliance for the East of England network. Nicole is also back at university part-time, completing an MBA and continuing her professional development to eventually take up a directorship.

When joining National Grid’s graduate scheme, Nicole decided to move institutes from IMechE to IGEM as she felt this allowed her to be more connected and involved with the gas industry.

She said: “I felt I had picked somewhere that supported like-minded individuals in an industry that felt supported and familiar. I have attended countless events, annual conferences and made key business contacts, as well as gaining my chartership with IGEM.”

On gaining Chartered Engineer status, Nicole found the process to be a wonderful learning curve as she had to understand the characteristics and skills that are valued by the industry, which pushed her towards new experiences.

She is consistently finding new ways to learn and develop and appreciates the status chartership provides her and hopes it will open doors for future career opportunities.

Making use of IGEM’s member benefits, Nicole attends regular events and seizes the CPD opportunities the institution provides which increases her awareness of the industry and allows her to network. Her advice for anyone wanting to break into the industry is: “Take every opportunity you can, see everything you can, build your network and find a mentor."