** This blog is part of a series called The Chaos Train, a record of daily life when you...read more
Mel Webster talks to workingmums.co.uk about her job as a DTV home service engineer at Sky.
Mel Webster has been working as a DTV home service engineer for Sky for just over two years and is keen to encourage more women to consider the profession.
Prior to doing an apprenticeship at Sky, Mel had been a mechanic for 10 years after having her children, choosing the job because it allowed her flexibility around her family and because the garage she worked at was at the end of her road and she could pick her days. She has three children, aged 17, 14 and 11. Her 14 year old, Reece, has ADHD, autism and Asperger’s.
Mel loves to learn. In the past she has done a diploma in catering, but it was while she was at night school studying plumbing that she saw the advert for a female engineer. She liked being a mechanic, but she wanted to get out and about. “You get a bit stuck in the same setting,” she says. “The same four walls. I wasn’t bored of the job, but I was bored of being confined. I wanted to be a woman of all trades.”
Her Sky job, her first full-time job since becoming a mum, is out and about in the field and has recently moved district, now covering Leeds, York and Selby and more. She says the move meant Reece had to change school and it has proved challenging finding him the right provision. Mel’s new manager has been very supportive, however, even though she has only known him a few weeks. She says the most important thing has been the level of empathy she has felt from him and she adds that the flexibility offered around appointments has been amazing. Fortunately, Mel’s partner works from home so she can look after Reece until the family find the right provision for him.
Mel started her apprenticeship with Sky just before Covid and had her mentoring extended for an extra two months. She is still in touch with her mentor. Mel has worked throughout the pandemic and has been able to go into customers’ houses since March. She loves the job which involves installing Sky dishes, cables and boxes. Customers have a choice of dishes, cable or Sky Glass. Each installation setting is different and Mel likes the interaction with customers, checking they have the right package for them and ensuring they have a good customer journey. She adds that being a female in a male-dominated role stands her in good stead as people seem more open to talking to her. Customers sometimes tell her about their worries and she feels that listening can make a real difference.
Indeed Mel is involved in the Sky Time to Care befriending initiative, run in partnership with Age UK, which involves visiting elderly people. She has also run races for Sky and says she regularly checks the My Sky Development intranet pages for voluntary opportunities.
Mel was the only woman on her first team, but her current team has four other women on it and is very diverse. When she started only 2% of engineers were female, but now 11% are, with a target having been set to get to 20%. She herself is used to working in a male-dominated environment. She admits to initial doubts about whether she could do the job, but says they were all in her head. “It’s all about what is in your head rather than the actual job,” she states. “Women are just as capable. It’s about having confidence in yourself. Once there are more women doing engineering jobs it will attract more. We are all equals at Sky.”
Mel sees a good career path forward for her as an engineer and is keen to progress. She has already put her name down for doing installations at multi-dwelling units such as blocks of flats, care homes and pubs which her mentor was a specialist in. She is also keen to learn how to instal Sky fibre, something Sky does in partnership with digital network business Openreach, and has put her name down for training.
Mel, who has received recognition for her customer services skills through the Sky stars scheme, says: “Every day of my working life is different and that there is lots of opportunity for development.”