Monisha Gower heads up the Investment Planning Office in our Eastern gas distribution network, and is responsible for the effective delivery of £1.2 billion worth of improvements to our network over the coming years. In this blog, Monisha talks through her journey to becoming an engineering leader.
I was born in Nigeria to Indian parents when attitudes to women in engineering were very different – In those
days, the best engineering job a woman could hope for was a secretarial role.
As a child with a passion for tinkering with gadgets, I knew I wanted to be an engineer. When the time came, my father insisted engineering wasn’t the right path for me. Taken to a university 350km away from home, he enrolled me into Computer Science, where women made up 70% of the class. After a month I decided to defiantly follow my dream and switched to Electrical Engineering, becoming 1 of only 10 women in a cohort of over 200 students. A year later, I moved to Scotland to finish my engineering qualifications.
With an MSc in Electrical & Electronic Engineering, I started out as a Project Manager and Prince2 Practitioner delivering enterprise IT solutions for HP, Dell and Fujitsu-Siemens.
Following the 2008 financial crash, I decided to once again pursue my engineering career, specifically in the energy sector. However, my applications for engineering Project Manager roles were unsuccessful as I didn’t have the ‘relevant experience’. Determined to have a career in engineering, at 29 I gambled and started over! I enrolled on National Grid’s 2-year Engineering Training Programme (ETP) within Electricity Capital Delivery…best decision ever!
Six years after the course and three promotions later, I was Senior Project Manager heading up the South West Overhead Lines, Cables & Substations Construction Delivery unit. Over those six years I’d either worked on or led teams delivering a portfolio of major infrastructure projects including customer connections such as Tilbury Power station, Crossrail Pudding Mill Lane, Nemo Link HVDC Interconnector and Vattenfall Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm to name a few.
I joined Cadent four years ago and established an engineering delivery unit to deliver improvements to our asset health. Now, and another step up the ladder, I have the pleasure of leading the new Investment Planning Office (IPO) for the Eastern Network, covering asset management, network design, and delivering £1.2bn of asset investment over the coming years.
As a member of Cadent’s diversity and inclusion steering group, I challenge our supply chain partners to promote gender and ethnic minority representation in their workforce, with the launch of our new contracts. I’m passionate about securing the Eastern IPO’s resource ‘pipeline’ through new talent initiatives such as Apprenticeships, Industrial Placements, Engineering Training Programme and Graduate schemes.
I am a Member of the Association for Project Management (APM) and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) with ambition to secure charterships. I also have the honour of mentoring a number of very talented young professionals through their career journeys.
And…my father is incredibly proud of me!