Annette Doyle, Managing Director at TRUMPF Ltd.


Annette Doyle Managing Director at TRUMPF Ltd.
#WiMHearHerStory | @WomeninMFG

At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-building will help attract and retain women in manufacturing. As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing. The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.

I am the managing director for the British subsidiary of TRUMPF, the leading manufacturer of machine tools and industrial lasers. On a daily basis I interact with the employees of various sales and customer service functions and of course with our customers, traveling the country as well as conducting business in our office in Luton, near London.

How did you arrive at your current position? What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?

I have worked in manufacturing my entire working life. After an apprenticeship with an automotive supplier and studies in business administration, I studied mechanical engineering and technology management. I started as a student intern at TRUMPF, and then worked as a manager of the Training Center at TRUMPF in the United States. My last job in the United States was as manager of the machine assembly, actually assembling, testing and shipping the machines TRUMPF sells worldwide. I decided early on that I could not work in a workplace where nothing was made. To be able to see, touch and interact with an actual product was always important to me, so a career in manufacturing was the obvious choice.

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men. Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?

When dealing with high-tech, the dirt and danger usually stays outside in the yard. At TRUMPF we deal with very high-tech machinery, where all possible dangers are safeguarded well. All TRUMPF locations that I have visited are clean, well lit, modern and a place any woman or man would be happy to work in. Our machines are shipped to a great variety of industries and companies of different sizes, many of which I have visited, and almost all of them pass my ultimate test question: would I let my daughters work here? And of course, TRUMPF itself breaks the main stereotype by having a female CEO and president in Germany who serves as a great role model.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor. Has mentorship played any role in your career?

I have been very lucky in that I have always had skilled, friendly and smart people who were my mentors. Some were men, some were women, some worked in the same company and some were outside. These people made a huge impact on my career and helped me make the right decisions in critical situations. Everybody benefits from mentors. Now it is our job to become good mentors for the younger people joining our businesses.

One of the key findings in WiM’s survey is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today. But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?

Looking at the fact that many companies have difficulties finding skilled employees in the fields of manufacturing and engineering on the one hand and young women choosing careers in other fields even though their skills would be well matched with positions in manufacturing, shows the root of the problem. The two groups need to be brought together early on. Let’s host tours for girl scouts, middle school groups, and let’s invite the top 10 female performers of a school in the STEM subjects and give them tours of exciting, clean and modern factories. Seeing is believing for young women as much as anybody else!

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options. Would you recommend a career in manufacturing? And, if so, why?

In my career, especially as a manager of a manufacturing department, I have led many tours of young women through TRUMPF and advocated a career in manufacturing for them. It has always made me happy to then see some of them show up later as students and employees in a manufacturing or engineering environment. I have always promoted and recommended manufacturing to young women, because it is a place where you can see an actual product being made, work in international and diverse teams and enjoy a lot of creative freedom. Young people should also understand that manufacturing skills are highly transferrable internationally, I personally have worked and studied in five countries, so, a career in manufacturing can really help you see the world!