Faye BowserFaye Bowser BEng (Hons), Ceng is the Head of the Energy Solutions team for Siemens plc. She has a background in Mechanical Engineering and Strategy with international experience.

The world of energy is changing towards a low carbon decentralised system, Faye’s role is to work with energy intensive users in the UK to develop a service-based energy savings model that is tailored to suit the users needs. This is leveraging energy efficiency measures, the supply side portfolio, talent and know-how for Siemens to be leaders in this exciting market.

Faye uses her passion and 16 years’ experience of working in the global market to lead the Energy Solutions team to ensure Siemens is a world class leader in the transition towards the clean energy future. 

Faye is on the Board of  Heat Customer Protection Ltd (EIC), a Chartered Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and works closely with various organizational research projects. She is involved with a range of industry bodies.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

The world of energy is changing fast towards a low-carbon decentralised system. My role, as the Head of Energy Solutions at Siemens plc, is to lead a multi-disciplinary team that works with energy intensive users such as manufacturers, business parks and universities to define and deliver solutions that empower them to transition to a Net Zero, clean energy future.

I first started out in 2003 on the shop floor at Siemens’ Lincoln gas turbine factory, as a Technical Apprentice in Mechanical Engineering, later going on to be a Controls Engineer while completing an Honours Engineering Degree. After ten years in a variety of engineering roles in Lincoln and travelling globally to work in teams installing and commissioning turbines I then moved into commercial roles, managing service contracts for customers in Germany and Japan. This was followed by leading sales for Russia and Eastern Europe before I focused on the UK market to set up the Energy Solutions business while adding an INSEAD Leadership Certificate in Strategy in the Age of Digital Disruption and an Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) at Warwick University to my qualifications.

I am an active supporter of Women in Leadership and Women in Engineering. In addition, I am involved with a range of industry bodies – I sit on the Board of the Heat Trust, am a Chartered Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and work closely with various organisational research projects.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

The short answer is no, I didn’t have my path mapped out – when I was at school I wasn’t  planning to work in engineering or in the energy sector but at 16, I loved the idea of an industry based apprenticeship and that was my entry point. I’ve always kept an open mind and was always keen to be adaptable, finding ways to apply my experience and knowledge into new areas in Siemens. One thing I do regularly, every year, is to pause and reflect on my career and current role, to explore whether I am using my full potential and consider where I can go next to extend my experience further. It’s this curiosity to discover, learn and apply new things that has driven my career.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I certainly have – like probably everybody else, I can look back on a batch of experiences that tested me and helped me build my strengths. Moving into a management and leadership position was a step change, as was building a new business unit within a very large organisation such as Siemens. But I have relished the opportunity.

Being a young female in a male dominated sector also continues to be a challenge as you do come up against preconceptions and bias. At one point, I was working in field service as an engineer as the only woman among more than 150 men and I was learning about how to show not only respect for others but respect for myself knowing that I was often judged before saying a word. Sometimes I still get impostor syndrome and I have to remind myself that I am where I am because of my capacity and achievements, not because of a quota. Over the years, I have developed a lot of self-trust and confidence, I have had great feedback and support from men as well as women and luckily, those who doubt you just because you are female are generally in the minority.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Setting up and leading the Siemens’ Energy Solutions business is a very exciting place to be. It is very rewarding to partner with big energy users to find technical and economical ways to decarbonise and to see strategies turn into reality for our customers, be that in carbon reduction, cost savings, increased efficiency or better energy resilience.

We really harness the diversity within the team to work towards this one common goal of a sustainable energy future. This purpose has been applied to Siemens itself which has a target of being net zero by 2030; we’ve recently empowered one of our own factories in Congleton to reduce their consumption through a mix of energy efficiency measures and by installing local power generation while procuring certified green energy to make them a Net Zero Manufacturer. Going through this process using a custom-built digital tool chain from early design simulation through to remote service analytics brings to life a new way of engineering.

And I’m proud that we’ve delivered Europe’s largest smart microgrid at Keele University, which allowed them to reduce their carbon footprint by a third. That project combined a number of technologies from demand response to EV charging, as well as a highly sophisticated distribution network control system.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

When I look back at my career so far, every achievement and every role change has been driven by a strong sense of curiosity. Asking questions all the time, trying to understand a challenge and working out how I and those around me can make a difference, those are the things that have led me to the most exciting places, projects and meeting a great network of people. I love to find a way to transform complexity into simplicity, to drill down into the problem at hand and I apply this approach to everything I do, from developing control automation software to working with complex teams.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

There are three tips I would like to share. Firstly, make sure you are either aiming to be a specialist or a generalist. When I was working on the control system of Siemens’ gas turbines, I acquired so much in-depth knowledge that I became the go-to specialist. I then went the opposite way and applied myself in a broader way to understand the energy system as a whole; I now have this full helicopter view of the solutions we offer, how everything plays together and I can work with the specialists within my team for the details. To deliver truly innovative solutions, you need to understand and value the specialist skill-set but have the ability to know what role that plays in a wider system.

Secondly, be interested and get involved. Connect with industry organisations, read relevant articles and magazines, go to events where there are likeminded people. All of this will help you get so much more out of your career and keep you learning and growing.

And thirdly, make sure what you do has a purpose that is meaningful to you. Think about how the technology you work with and the innovations you develop can transform people’s lives. Ultimately, that is what keeps the passion alive.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, there are. You only need to look at the statistics published by the Women’s Engineering Society – only 12 per cent of all engineers in the UK are women. Between the ages of 11-14, 46 per cent of girls would consider a career in engineering, compared to 70 per cent of boys. By age 16-18, this number goes down to just 25 per cent. Something significant happens to girls from early development through the education system that is conditioned by society to think that boys are more suited to tech careers. So girls encounter these barriers before they even start university.

If people have to prove themselves regularly just because of their appearance, age or gender, then we all have a responsibility to tackle this mindset together. The good news is that things are starting to change and I have seen big inclusion drives in organisations like Siemens. People are beginning to really believe in the value of diversity and to act on it. So I am hopeful that we will see more people being selected for roles because of their skills, experience and passion rather than assumptions made based on their gender or background.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think it’s important for organisations to both develop meaningful proactive initiatives to tackle barriers and create an inclusive environment while also listening to the women and their experiences because everyone is unique and will have ideas and views that need to be heard. Proactive intervention could include diversity champions, employee networks, STEM events for the next generation of engineers, but also constantly reviewing the mix of employees and their roles to make sure everyone has equal opportunities. The broad range of initiatives at Siemens also includes a Women’s Impact Programme, which was built by two female employees. Creating an inclusive workplace isn’t a top-down or box ticking exercise, it relies on people at all levels to get involved and make a difference.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

In a nutshell: make sure you have an environment where you can constructively challenge people’s perceptions, educate and openly create change. Unconscious bias training is a start but what we should do is turn it into conscious inclusion. So, the key is to not just to recognise the problem but to be part of the solution. And to trust that ultimately we all want to achieve the same outcome.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The Institute of Engineering and Technology is a great place for career advice and networking opportunities. The Women’s Engineering Society provides inspirational networking, conferences and events and has released a fantastic book about the women who shaped its history, Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines. Finally, I recommend the Guilty Feminist podcast by Deborah Frances-White; it is very funny but covers serious topics.

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