Inspirational Interviews – Ella Podmore

Welcome to the first of our ‘Inspirational People’ interviews! We hope to make this a monthly series where we talk to amazing women doing incredible things in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths).

Hopefully these ‘Inspirational Interviews’ will give an eye-opening insight into the brilliant variety of roles there are on offer in STEM industries!

We will be talking to inspirational people about how they got to where they are today and what their job is all about!

Today we are talking to Ella Podmore – Lead Materials Engineer at McLaren Automotive! Read on to find out more…

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us about your current job?
Ella Podmore, I am lead materials engineer for McLaren Automotive. I am responsible for all material-related investigations within the business, right from R&D (Research & Development) projects into new material technology, through to problems we have on cars in the customer field.

What/Who inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I loved solving problems! I grew up around cars and watching F1, so had a dream I would be involved somehow. I knew I wanted to go down an engineering based route, but it wasn’t until I explored the more chemical areas of engineering (such as chemical/materials) that I understood materials engineering excites me most and appeared to have the best career opportunities in every industry (because everything is made from something!)

How did you get to where you are today?
Endless amounts of work experience allowed me to explore what areas of engineering I was interested in. After two insight programs at investment banks I also realised I wanted to be involved in the business-side of things too.
Studied a masters of engineering in materials engineering at Manchester university. My third year was an industrial placement year for which I managed to persuade McLaren to take me on as their first materials engineer! After what seemed like a 12 month interview, I was able to get a thesis topic from them to complete my degree with and after successfully solving a problem for McLaren, they offered me a job afterwards. 1.5 years later, and here I am!

What does your typical day look like?
I typically spend 40% of my time in the laboratory, conducting tests on materials or analysing components, the rest of the time is spent in meetings or report writing.
I always start my day crunching emails and organising my schedule, people often know this and catch me at my desk at this time! Probably answers 2-3 queries from other engineers who are after materials advice. Then meetings up until lunch on business or project updates, after which I go on a long run (most days!), so important to have a break.
After lunch I work in the laboratory on components given to me from the track or investigation work.
I finish up with further emails and report writing before heading home!

What are your career highlights so far?
Career highlights: travelling to Australia for the Melbourne Grand Prix, on blue peter for my contribution for STEM, being a case study for Harper Collins’ fictional inspiration series “big idea engineer”, achieving top 10 Autocar rising star for 2019
Future plans: will be to grow my department at McLaren and continue to help McLaren achieve technological excellence.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I contribute a lot to STEM; visiting schools in my spare time to discuss career opportunities as well as many public speaking events. This is all done alongside my technical work, but other than my job I love to exercise – frequently competing in short distance running events – I play a bit of piano as well but I mainly enjoy a good brunch!

Thanks Ella for taking the time to share your story!

Lily & Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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