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With a passion for anything technical from an early age, Charlotte Lion always knew she would end up in engineering. Charlotte initially started at Essity in a traineeship program and, having already lived abroad in Spain, she leapt at the chance to work in the UK for a year. Since then Charlotte has completed her traineeship program moved on and is now a process engineer Essity Operations in Gien, France. As a process engineer, things don’t get much more technical. Charlotte took some time out of her schedule to sit down with us and tell us a bit about her career journey so far.
Hi and thank you. My work is generally focused on paper making sector of Essity. You can summarize my job goals simply as: “A mission to create systems that make life easier for employees. In essence, I try to make the everyday working conditions as comfortable and positive for all employees in the factory as I can.”
A normal day for me starts with the routine things like checking the machines for any safety or quality issues, looking for efficiency improvements and making sure the center lining is ok. Those are kind of the “morning chores”. After those I am usually liaising with my team to see if there are any previous fault issues from the day before. Quality and safety are a large part of what I do day-to-day – this often dictates how we approach priorities.
In terms of more long-term projects I have been really focused on continuous improvement projects. Recently we noticed a higher amount of waste when we change our fabrication. I was part of the team working with tenders and team leaders to reduce waste. We managed to reduce wastage by half which is a great result and it means we can share this process across our factories and be more sustainable than ever. I found it super gratifying to know work I have been instrumental in is going to be used across the company.
I learned loads! The first year of training is a lot more instructive. You go through the different process and routines you need to know to work safely in a factory setting and what conditions to aim for in general engineering standards. I was also lucky enough to be given the opportunity to do this abroad in Manchester, UK. It was an intense time for me – working on improving my English and learning a new role at the same time. It was tough, but I definitely learned a lot in a relatively short period of time. It was great to study in the UK and I loved the culture change. Manchester is a lovely place. It was a challenge as my English wasn’t as good then, but the people were so friendly and welcoming. At first it was difficult to understand how things worked but I got it in the end. We had a mentor which was really helpful – this was doubly useful as you can learn things from a mentor and have a safety net when things go wrong as well!
Well I studied engineering in Spain and the UK at university and have a double diploma with the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid so I knew I was going to go into that field. A trainee program made sense to me – you get to learn on the job and it has given me a much broader understanding of engineering. I now have a full-time role in the same company and the traineeship was definitely a key part of that transition.
Oh yes. I was always caught breaking and fixing things from a young age. I always wanted to understand how things worked and how the mechanisms inside stuff worked. My parents hated it. I always used to break things apart when their backs were turned to find out what made it go!
The spirit of the company is definitely a big part of why I stayed. I get challenged, enabled to move abroad and you get to influence what you get to do on the day-to-day and the big projects, which are all things I set out to do with my career. I wanted to work on big projects – and I have learned; you just have to have the courage to put your name forward for consideration.
Respect and care for each other. You must be ready to listen and be ready to take control at the same time. You also need courage to be bold and attack the problem head on, some decisions need to be made quickly. These qualities build trust which makes any team stronger and better at whatever they do.
I want to help improve people’s working conditions. If I can make their day better, it makes my day better. I get to directly see the direct impact of my work. Its massively rewarding to be part of a such a large company and see the things you do in front of and around you. I never wanted to be at a desk – I love being able to use my mind and body in what I do, and I get to do that.
I think that traditional roles have changed, people want different things and see things in a different light. We have some great role models in the company. Role models are very powerful and inspiring for people like me. You have something to aim for and a standard to achieve. Seeing positive attitudes represented in different areas is really gratifying to see.
I can only speak for my own personal experience of course, but Essity has been a great experience for me. From the offset you get to try lots of different things. I have had many opportunities to work on amazing projects from the start – I have been fully enabled to try different projects that require different skills. You do have to work hard, but you always have a safety in the team around you. Essity is a really big company but everyone is treated as an individual. It doesn’t feel too hierarchical so you can have your say or ask questions.
Thank you Charlotte.