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Maria Thompson – Female Field Engineer

Virgin Media

October 12, 2021

Can you tell us about your role?

I’m a Field Engineer, which means my job is to create memorable experiences for our customers in the Plymouth area – whether that’s fixing a fault on their broadband, telephone, TV or installing a new service.

And what does an average day look like for you?

I start each day by logging into my phone to look at my list of jobs and check the customers’ inventory and equipment, so I’m set up for the day. I then call the customer to let them know I’m on my way. They love the heads up and it helps build my rapport with them, especially if it means they can get dressed before an 8am visit on a Saturday!

When I arrive, we chat about their issue and then I get on with fixing the problem. And if I spot another issue, such as the position of their router, I can sort that out too so the customer’s experience is the best it can be.

I’ll then move onto the next customer. A service visit usually lasts for half an hour and an installation can take up to four hours, so no one day is the same.

How did you get into engineering?

Engineering wasn’t something that I’d ever considered before this job. Previously, I was a paediatric nurse for four years, but I was looking for a new challenge. It was really important that I could keep active, not be based in an office and have the chance to progress.

That’s when I saw Virgin Media’s Calling All Women ad. At first, I didn’t expect I’d get it, as I didn’t have any technical experience. But the recruiting team said they were looking for personality – someone who is great at communicating and giving customers the best experience – and they could teach me the rest.

On my first day my boss handed me the keys to my van – I was so nervous as I had never driven anything so big before! But now I love driving it.

What’s your experience as a woman in engineering? 

There are some customers who are still surprised to see a woman arrive for their visit, some even think I’m calling from a call centre when I ring. However, everyone is happy that I’ve come to fix their issue and that Virgin Media are hiring women into engineering roles. So it’s a great step forward for us break the stereotype and get more women into the field.

What do we need to do to get more women into engineering?

The job ad attracted me as it’s tailored to women. If it hadn’t been then I don’t think I would have applied. Articles like this, where we’re raising awareness and showcasing the types of jobs women are doing in the field, really help too.

What do you think about the engineering opportunities at Virgin Media?

For someone like me, with no prior engineering experience, I found the training great. I had a fantastic mentor for the first three months. I found the best way to learn is on the job and the team are a great support as there’s always someone at the end of the phone.

Who inspires you? 

It has to be my mum. She’s always told me I can do what I ever I want to do. She said to go for it when I wanted to come out of nursing. She was shocked when I said I was becoming an engineer and now she’s really proud that I drive a big van around for Virgin Media.

What are your top 3 tips for women looking to get into engineering?

  1. Be brave and know you can do a role like this
  2. Everyone is equal – it’s great that I can work alongside a team of women and men in the same roles;
  3. For roles like mine, no previous technical experience is necessary. You just need a drive to learn and create memorable experiences.

What would you like to change in the future?

It would be great if we can get to a point where we don’t need to have tailored ads to get women into engineering and customers’ aren’t surprised that it’s a woman engineer at their door.

Thinking of purpose, how are you building connections that really matter?

It always starts with the customer. If I can make a difference this drives me to do a great job for the next customer too.

Lastly, if someone is wondering whether a role in engineering is for them, what advice would you give?

Go for it! I’ve learnt so much and I’m more capable than I ever thought possible.

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