Fawleys fab four female engineers

Four of ExxonMobil Fawley's senior female engineers, who hold some of the most important roles on site, are encouraging more girls to consider a career in engineering. While the number of female engineers in the UK is growing every year, women are still under-represented, and this is something they are keen to address. 

Article

Fawleys fab four female engineers

Annita McCurdy, Cat Flynn, Helen Ross and Sara Dawe came to work at Fawley after work placements there while studying at universities across the UK. All showed aptitude for engineering and were offered places on ExxonMobil’s graduate programme following their studies.

Annita and Helen who are Process Managers for the Refinery and Chemicals units respectively, work with their teams on the safety, reliability and efficiency of our operations there. 

Since she started in 2003, Annita has worked in a variety of roles across Europe and the USA.   Reflecting on her decision to pursue a career in engineering, she says: “I loved maths and science, but wanted to do something practical - a careers adviser suggested Chemical Engineering and I didn’t look back!

“I love change and the variety and responsibility continues to grow all the time – and now in this time of energy transition, it only becomes more exciting!  Throughout my career I have met incredible women in our industry, and I am passionate about active support for females in engineering.  I would strongly encourage any young women with a passion for STEM to consider engineering.” 

Helen started her career at Fawley in 2004 and has held various roles from development and operations engineer to business analysis and supply economist.  She also met her husband David at the site.  Since then, they have lived and worked in Fife, Houston and Dallas and have recently returned to Fawley with their two young children.  “I like to think that I will inspire my daughter to explore a wide variety of career options, without any boundaries or feeling she needs to follow a set path,” she says.

Cat Flynn is Business Team Leader for the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit at Fawley, which makes petrol and diesel and the feed stock for the chemicals side of the site. She is responsible for an 80-strong team.  She started out as a development engineer before moving into a scheduling role and then an economist position.  Cat also worked in the Company’s UK headquarters where she was responsible for buying crude oil, before returning to Fawley in 2020 to her current role.

“I have experienced gender bias, with people not expecting me to lead a team, but some of my closest allies have been male and have helped me a lot along the way,” she explains. “I am the first female team leader of the CAT plant and more women are now considering engineering as a career, which is great.”

Sara Dawe is the Reforming and Lubricants Business Team Leader looking after the business performance, safety and reliability of the products made in her units.  Sara started working at Fawley in 2009 and has held roles within the technical group and a UK supply operations role. She has also worked as a product analyst and as the Fawley Marine Terminal supervisor, working with external companies to manage the Fawley jetty’s daily operations.

“I’ve had a varied career and enjoyed it all,” Sara explains. “The best part is working with lots of different and talented people. If I have any challenges, I know that we have the skills to come up with solutions.  I am more introverted than some of my co-workers, but there is now much more recognition that people work in different ways.  I would encourage any girls considering a career in engineering to go for it, but to be authentic and true to themselves and not try to meet a particular stereotype.”

Image From
left: Helen Ross, Sara Dawe, Annita McCurdy and Cat Flynn
From left: Helen Ross, Sara Dawe, Annita McCurdy and Cat Flynn