Sarah Sowerby (Rivers) left The Queen’s School in 2004 with A -levels in maths, further maths, chemistry and physics. She started her degree in physics at Warwick University and then transferred to a master’s in mechanical engineering, where she was just one of three women in a course of 100. This post-graduate degree took Sarah into cutting-edge research sponsored by Corus Steel, her work focusing on developing technologies that use high pressure water to cut through steel.
Sarah earned a 2:1 in her degree, and was then selected to be part of ICI’s prestigious Euro graduate training scheme. The huge benefit of this scheme was that it allowed her to experience a wide range of industries and roles within those industries: from people management skills in a warehouse to developing processes for the palletisation of tin cans.
So far, Sarah’s career has taken her from developing electronic scoreboards for gymnastic competitions through to the development of innovative processes for the manufacture of paint. She has project managed a team of engineering contractors at a £100 million paint facility that she helped design and build, and she is currently working as a Lean Operations and Innovations Manager at Marley Eternit, running innovation projects and rolling out Lean and Six Sigma principles in the factories.
Sarah said that she feels that more girls should look into the possibility of graduate training schemes - they give you the opportunity to get an understanding of a range of roles in an organisation, allowing you to find a career that is right for you. She feels that the confidence a Queen’s education gave her made it possible for her to compete in what is still a very male-dominated sector, for at every stage she feels that she has had to prove herself as an engineer and that rather than hindering her this has made her more determined.
Sarah is married and enjoys reading, power walking and horse riding.