"When you get higher up the management ladder, it’s about making that ladder a staircase for other women” says Cadent’s Dr Angela Needle, as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

 I have always worked in infrastructure and energy businesses but I’m not an engineer, though I have worked with and alongside them all the way.  I did an Environmental Science degree at Hull University and that gave me a life-long interest in all things environmental. I started a 10-year career at Anglian Water as a graduate. I’ve worked at Centrica and now I am thrilled to be at Cadent. Utilities have been a theme throughout my career  and I’m pleased to be carrying on my love for the environment through my role at Cadent, focusing on our vision for a net zero gas grid.
Throughout my career I have rubbed shoulders with the engineering population that make these magnificent things happen.  And I’ve come across my fair share of challenges as a woman in utilities.  I have become used to being the only woman in the room in nearly every meeting and I realised early on that while society seems to give males credibility automatically, women seem to have to work that bit harder to prove they have the same experience or expertise.
Men and women will often solve problems in different ways; this of course is a generalisation but I do believe that women will typically think about people a little more, or go about solving problems in a different way. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong - the diversity of thought is what drives innovation.   With modern engineering projects having multiple stakeholders these days, that diverse perspective is crucial. 
Knowing that diversity adds value, I believe is it important for senior female leaders to ensure that other women get the support they need. It’s crucial that we don’t pull up the ladder. We need to find a way of making the ladder a staircase for other women.
Because of the lack of diversity in the utility industry as a whole, I am a founder of the Women’s Utility Network (WUN), which I set up with other founders across our industry to create a space for women of whatever discipline. Some are engineers, some are analysts, some are marketeers but they all work in the energy and water space and this gives them a place where they can share, learn, grow, and ask questions with the purpose of retaining them in the industry rather than losing them through lack of opportunity. This is something I am passionate about and have brought with me to Cadent. 
I’m also a great believer in mentoring and I have had a mentor since I was at Anglian Water.  I’m in the privileged position to be able to give back now and as well as mentoring, I have set up a separate mentoring programme as part of WUN.
 
One of the common challenges that many women face is related to self-confidence: for whatever reason they feel that they’re not good enough. This often stops us from putting ourselves forward to talking about our achievements. Senior women and men providing mentoring to our junior counterparts is a great way of boosting confidence by giving belief and support to help them take the next steps.  My personal motivation is helping people to get where they want to be. This is often not a straight line and capturing the learning along the way is essential.
 
I’m very pleased to say that, as a woman in a senior position, my twin passions of equality and the environment have come together at Cadent. As well as supporting other women I’m now bringing my perspective to the challenge of making the transition to a hydrogen economy.  I have some amazing men and women engineers working with me on the technical aspects but also policy, finance, social impact and education. Having started with an environmental degree this role really does speak to my purpose. Helping Cadent think through and plan out the transition to hydrogen is a very privileged role so I’m very motivated to be here.   
 
Read more about our inspirational engineers Lorna Millington and Nicole Jackson.
 

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