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STEMazing: Smithson to inspire a new generation into refrigeration trade

Nicola Smithson, business development manager at Dean & Wood, a Beijer Ref company, has been selected to participate in the STEMazing Inspiration Academy. This inclusion and diversity programme empowers women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to shine as role models to encourage more young people (particularly girls) to join these industries.

The four-month STEMazing programme provides training to enhance participants’ skills at delivering engaging content, culminating in presentations to children within schools to inspire the next generation to enter STEM careers.

Ms Smithson, one of 40 successful applicants from hundreds of entrants, is delighted to have been accepted on to the programme. “It’s a great chance to spark younger people’s interest in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry, and to show what an interesting, challenging and rewarding career it offers,” she said. “I feel there’s a real lack of education and awareness about the world of temperature control; in fact, it’s all around us and critical to providing health and wellbeing to all our lives.

“It’s such a diverse industry, which impacts us all every day in ways such as; keeping milk fresh by cooling it from the minute it leaves the cow until it’s poured into a glass for consumption; keeping electronic data safely stored for companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft through temperature-controlled data centres; and temperature control for healthcare by cooling vaccines, blood and organs in hospitals and laboratories around the globe.”

Ms Smithson continued: “Because refrigeration and air conditioning, indirectly and directly, plays such a huge part in the world around us, the industry is an ideal platform to promote STEMazing and its values. Undoubtedly it has historically been a male-dominated arena which has bred some bias, conscious or unconscious, though I’m fortunate to work in an organisation that promotes equality and diversity. I have had, and still have, some fantastic male mentors who have consistently encouraged me in everything I do. Equally, I currently work alongside some amazing female leaders and mentors.

“Beijer Ref is constantly challenging and adapting work processes and procedures by sharing creative thinking from all parts of the business,' Ms Smithson continued. 'A recent example of this is the introduction of the Beijer Ref leadership programme in the UK, an in-house learning platform to help develop our future leaders. It’s a three-year training programme where trainees either from within the company or fresh out of university or college, are taught every aspect of our business with a hands-on approach. The training is project-driven from concept to fruition, with trainees working alongside seasoned experts in their particular field. Our aim is to develop the next generation of diverse leaders, driving the business forward and securing its future and the team within it.

“STEMazing gives me an opportunity to not only promote our exciting industry into schools to inspire the next generation into STEM, but it also provides me with new skills and tools to bring back into our organisation to ensure its successful, inclusive and diverse future.”



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