Jan 14, 2020
Joanna Henderson Abraham works on our Business and Industry team. We share her thoughts on her work and its importance in inspiring the next generation of engineers.
What do you do at EngineeringUK?
My job is to fundraise and bring in investment so we can reach more young people. Day-to-day, I look for new businesses who are looking to inspire the next generation of engineers and manage existing accounts. My role is to look after the construction, engineering, creative companies, and not-for-profit organisations, like WaterAid, who all inspire youth by showing them different ways to explore STEM.
I’ve been working at EngineeringUK for 3.5 years and over that time I have helped bring in new and exciting sponsors, such as the National Theatre to The Big Bang Fair.
What’s your favourite part of working at EUK?
My favourite part of the job is seeing everyone and everything come together at the Big Bang Fair! It’s also being there with colleagues and seeing how everyone works together in an environment outside the office. There is so much to do and see at the fair that you could walk around the show floor multiple times and still miss something.
It’s also really satisfying seeing all the companies setting up for the Fair and thinking ‘I’ve helped make this happen’. When the doors open on the Wednesday, the entire building is filled with excitement. Watching the children engaging with the exhibitors is great to see.
How does your work affect young people?
It inspires, engages and educates young people! I’m a big advocate for letting students find what they are interested in and then letting them know how it relates to STEM. It also promotes to students that their subject choices at school have an influence over career opportunities later on. My role opens opportunities to young people that they didn’t know previously existed – seeing them get inspired, especially when engaging with the non-traditional engineering companies is exciting.
What are you working on at the moment?
My work has expanded recently – I used to only work on the UK Fair but now I’m also working across our regional fairs (BBNM), working on securing sponsors and exhibitors at both the national and regional level.
What are you looking forward to in the next 6 months?
The Big Bang Fair! Also seeing how things develop at EngineeringUK – we are doing a lot as an organisation and currently have very ambitious projects on the go. As a company we are mindful of making a meaningful impact. Equality, diversity and inclusion are high on our agenda and we are developing a company strategy with new ways to work with delivery partners around the Big Bang Near Me programme.
Any highlights you’d like to share?
One of my biggest highlights was the first Big Bang Competition award ceremony I attended. As a team we had been working so hard to get the ceremony up and running so being able to attend was a highlight. I felt such a sense of pride while watching the students get called onto the stage to collect their prize, with parents and teachers cheering them on.
Another highlight would be working on securing companies to provide Special Awards for the Big Bang Competition. Each year companies will provide an award for their related projects, for example; The Future Water Association sponsors the Future Water Prize and my role is to provide them with all the water-related projects so that they can shortlist their favourites. The shortlisted projects then get invited to the Fair to showcase their work, where the judges will choose the winning project and it is presented at the Awards Ceremony.
How much do you help companies shape and develop their content?
It depends on who the sponsor is, and where they are on their STEM outreach journeys. Some companies in their earlier stages of planning are keen for more input so we’ll introduce them to colleagues in the wider EngineeringUK team. This is so they can get discussions going around content and the types of activities that would work best to engage young people.
Recently we’ve encouraged companies in similar industries to collaborate by bringing them into a themed zone where they can work together, and their activities complement each other.
The EngineeringUK Skills Partnership is a network of businesses working together to grow the engineering talent pipeline.