A model manufacturing mentor

Simone Thomas, Director, HT Brigham & Company, shares her experience of female role models and urges more women to be ambitious and to take responsibility for promoting informed decision making among girls making career choices.

Simone Thomas, Director, HT Brigham & Co

“I was extremely privileged recently to have been invited by Lloyds Bank Group to the Vitalise Business Women of the Year awards, where I was greatly inspired by the finalists for this year’s accolade.

I took home an important message from Lord Digby Jones, who was the Judging Chair this year. During his speech, he emphasised the importance that these women, who have achieved so much in business, go out into schools and colleges and act as role models for female students. Women in business need to enthuse these students, who may feel that it is tough to achieve great things in the business workplace.

However, success doesn’t come without drive and dedication.

This was clear, listening to guest speaker Dame Kelly Holmes, as she shared her story about overcoming adversity in order to achieve her goals. Surely this possibility of success can be within all of our grasps.

So, as a Director of a presswork manufacturing company, and as a woman working in a predominantly male environment, how can I help to inspire other young females to carve a career for themselves?

A man’s world?

HT Brigham has been in business since 1947.

It was founded by a husband and wife team in a garden shed, utilising one hand press and delivering the components locally in the sidecar of their motorbike.

Following Hugh Brigham’s untimely death, Margret Brigham successfully carried on taking the business forward, and in doing so, gained an immense amount of respect amongst her male peers.

She carved out a future for her company at a time when female business leaders were few and far between, especially in the manufacturing sector.

She continued to do this up until her own death in 1997. The company is now a leading supplier of pressed metal components into the global market.

Success manufactured by women

At the age of just 17, straight out of my commerce and business course & secretarial studies at college, I knew that I wanted a career in an office environment, but never imagined how far I could take the role of PA forward.
Following an arduous climb through the ranks, I am now one of the company Directors myself and I know that I have Mrs Brigham to thank for inspiring me to achieve all that I have in business.

She was my mentor and to this day I continue to quote and try and carry out decisions to a manner that I think she would have done the same. I must be doing something right, as I have just celebrated my 30th year with HT Brigham.
It is a fact that the success of this manufacturing company, has historically been and continues to be, significantly influenced by the strong foundation which the female staff provide.

With loyal input and meticulous attention to detail, my fellow female colleagues are an invaluable asset to a company, operateing within a market sector that may not have an obvious appeal for women. On the contrary, this sector can provide a challenging and stimulating career path for young female recruits down a variety of avenues within manufacturing.

Making informed decisions

Despite this fact, it really hit home to me when I attended a local engineering apprentice college recently, that there was just one young lady amongst a learning facility of predominantly male students. Now we need to ask the question as to why this is the case.

Why aren’t girls choosing manufacturing? Is it because these young girls aren’t being given enough information about this sector when they are at the age to choose their future career paths? Does the engineering /manufacturing sector get a look in when they are making these choices? Is there sufficient information about the diverse variety of opportunities on offer made available to them?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then how can young girls make an informed decision about whether a career in manufacturing is right for them?

It is crucial that we continue to nurture and inspire the next generation of women astronauts, prime ministers, athletes, board directors and more and I shall carry on in my matriarchal role of trying to lead a group of dedicated females to further success in manufacturing.”