Northern Irish aircraft seating manufacturer, Collins Aerospace has committed to increasing the number of women in leadership roles from its current Director team level of 25 per cent.

The global manufacturer in Kilkeel, County Down, is part of Raytheon Technologies Corporation and currently has 750 employees. The company has experienced a steady rise in the number of women in managerial and senior management roles in recent years, demonstrating how manufacturing and engineering sectors are moving away from gender-based roles.

The company has placed a firm focus on attracting women into the historically male-dominated industry with initiatives including the hugely successful ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering’ day, which encourages young females to explore STEM related subjects, as well as various placement opportunities and internships.

“Gender was never something that was considered”

Alice Ewart is a Materials and Process Engineer within the composites department at Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel. She began her career as an Intern as part of the Engineering Leadership Programme from Queen’s University. Ewart said: “Since I started Collins Aerospace as an Intern, I was treated as an engineer – it didn’t matter what gender I was – it was never something that was considered. The company has offered me many opportunities to develop myself as a person, as well as my technical skills and knowledge. There is a real drive and really good support structure within the company to encourage and help people to want to do better.”

Business Unit Manager, Catherine Parr, who moved into manufacturing from the construction sector, said, “My previous career experience hasn’t held me back in any way – if anything, having some external experience outside of manufacturing is an advantage as it allows me to bring a particular skillset into my current role. For any women who are looking for a new opportunity, Collins Aerospace is a really good option; there is nothing to stop you from applying for any role in any department and gain new skills and new information. It is a really great place to work.”

Company offers development programmes for women

To improve the number the women in leadership roles further, Collins Aerospace offers a number of training and development opportunities and places a firm focus on developing women in leadership.

Logistics Director Laura O’Hare began her career with the company back in 2007 as a Quality Engineer, and has since progressed through various roles before securing her current role back in 2018. O’Hare said: “From a diversity perspective, we are seeing more females in positions that are management led. When you have that ‘can do’ attitude and are trying to get to the next step, it is possible within Collins Aerospace, regardless of whether you are male or female.”

She added that since she joined Collins Aerospace, the number of women being put forward for development programmes and promotions has significantly increased. “Here at Collins, women are strongly encouraged to further develop their careers. They are being given many opportunities for training and development, which is giving them confidence to go for promotions that they wouldn’t have pursued before, or may not have been able to pursue. With so many different departments and types of work within the company, the opportunities are endless.”

Success of Kilkeel facility due to diversity of workforce

Managing Director of Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel, Stuart McKee, credits the success of the Kilkeel facility to the diversity of its workforce. “We are very fortunate to have the most capable, knowledgeable and talented women in the industry – each one making an invaluable contribution to the company’s success. On International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate the women of Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel.”

Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel is a major employer within the local area. As well as contributing to the local economy it has recently embarked on a recruitment drive as the company prepares for future growth.


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