“I worked on aircraft with the Royal Air Force…my career went from there”

Rebecca Shepherd is a Senior Engineering Team Leader for Combination Products and Devices (CPD) at Teva. Here, the 13-year engineering veteran discusses her role, what people think about her choice of career, and the things she can’t do without.

I'm often spinning a lot of plates. I lead engineering activities across a range of projects, as well as managing a team of engineers, so it can be quite full-on, but that tends to work best for me. I'll work with external contractors or third party suppliers handling specifications and technical documentation for projects, together with our manufacturing sites to get things in place ready for production. At the same time I ensure the full risk management documentation is in place.

I toyed with the idea of going into medicine, but I was always a very hands-on and logical person and played with Lego and Meccano from a young age. I did my work experience with the Royal Air Force (RAF) when I was about 15-years-old and got to work on aircraft. It went from there. I studied Aerospace Engineering and got a Masters at university I've worked in engineering for 13 years now. I love it and wouldn't want to do anything else.

People are normally quite surprised that I'm an engineer. But they usually then start asking about how I got into it and what the role’s like – often when they’ve got children who are starting to think about careers. I was a STEM ambassador [volunteers who help encourage young people to progress further in science, technology, engineering and mathematics] for a couple of years, so I did a few events with schools. It's best to get children interested very young, even before the stage where they're choosing subjects to study.

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There's a famous phrase that always sticks in my mind: 'never regret anything, because at one time it was exactly what you wanted'. Every experience you have, good or bad, shapes who you are, so don't be afraid to try something, or take that job, because it's influenced who you are today.

There are two things I can't do my job without: coffee and having a good dynamic in the office. Having a great team to work with always makes the job a lot more enjoyable and is important in engineering. I work with my direct team and interact with other departments here and across other sites. You have to be a team player.

Don’t worry about other people’s opinions because they’re going to have them anyway. That’s my advice to anyone who wants to work in engineering. Just because you see things differently or approach things in another way doesn't mean you're wrong. Challenging the norm can often be a good way of improving the processes or making things more efficient and streamlined.

I've been training in martial arts for four years. I wanted to learn self-defence and it has also improved my fitness immensely, I really enjoy it and I've met some great people.

I'm a massive foodie… but more as a viewer. I love watching cookery programmes like MasterChef or The Great British Bake Off. I can binge on them. I'm all about the food and love watching people make it. I'll have a go at cooking, mostly at the weekend when I've got a bit more time, but watching others cooking is my real guilty pleasure.

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