Reanna is a senior project engineer at NG Bailey. She joined the company as a first year building services engineering apprentice in 2011 before going on to achieve a first class honours degree in Building Services Engineering at Leeds Beckett University.
She won the prestigious CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year Award in 2018, which enabled her to travel to Atlanta to take part in the ASHRAE Conference.
Reanna was also the first chair of BESA’s Future Leaders’ group and is a mentor and STEM Ambassador for the North West.
She realised at an early age that she enjoyed ‘hands on’ work through helping her grandfather in his joinery business. She was also very good at science and maths, but didn’t particularly want to stay in college and decided she would rather be “making a difference in the world”.
She very much had to find her own way as there was little encouragement from her school advisers to go into a technical trade and had initially considered becoming a vet. However, she is very glad that she persisted when the opportunity emerged to go into engineering.
“The most rewarding part of my career so far has been my work on hospitals; saving lives and helping people to walk again,” says Reanna. “Everyone who has worked on or within a hospital is a life-saving hero. Also, without this foundation of dealing with complex services at an early stage of my career, I don’t believe I would have been able to achieve what I have in terms of progression and awards.”
She did find the gender issue frustrating at first, but says she had “to grow up quickly”; learn the ways of the male world and “grow a particularly strong backbone”. However, she says she would not change the experience for the world: “I have learnt so much and grown immensely as an individual.”
Now, she believes the fact she is a woman has been more of a benefit than a hindrance.
“Women have better emotional intelligence than men so I find it easier to compromise to gain win win situations without too much assertiveness and aggression. It works for me,” says Reanna.
It also gives her the upper hand at home, she says with a smile. “This is a really rewarding career and I would encourage any woman to consider it. You learn a lot and when things go wrong in the house, you can always boss your husband or partner around and tell them what to do!”
However, we do need to improve the level of awareness among young women that this can be a career for them, she says. The industry could do more to show off its exciting projects like the NHS Nightingale hospitals that came together in record time during the coronavirus crisis.
She also talks with enthusiasm about the manufacturing facilities she has worked on where leading technologies are being installed and historic buildings that are being brought back to life such as Manchester Town Hall, which is one of her projects.
INWED can play a major part because it is an opportunity for women of all ages to find out about the industry: “Not everyone may be as open as I was to looking around for the right apprenticeships and roles. I did a lot of research into the industry and the companies where I was offered positions. If you can showcase all of that in one place it makes things a lot easier for people to compare, learn and understand,” says Reanna.
Her involvement with BESA, including two years chairing its Future Leaders’ group for its younger members, has also been a big benefit. It has allowed her to meet “an abundance of people” and given her access to “a wealth of knowledge and experience that is just a phone call away”.