Looking at both the increasing and increasingly important roll of females in the factory, we hear from KATE HULLEY, MD of Wigan-based Belmont Packaging and Boxed Up…
When we think of manufacturing, the vast majority of us will envision factories, men in overalls, assembly lines and very few women. Manufacturing has historically been a male dominated industry with a small number of women choosing to follow a career within the sector. Even today, only 26% of the workforce within manufacturing is made up of women.
Kate Hulley is one of the few women that have chosen to work within the manufacturing industry. As the Managing Director and owner of cardboard box manufacturing company, Belmont Packaging, she demonstrates a versatile business model which focuses on driving growth, creating jobs and reducing the gender gap within the industry.
Although women are working within the industry, the numbers are still dwindling with a distinct lack of female led manufacturing firms in the sector.
Kate explains that the industry is a diverse one to work within and encourages that more women consider this when looking for a career. “Manufacturing is a sector I feel passionately about and figures show only a quarter of the industry workforce (26%) are actually women, so of course I would like to encourage more women to seek out careers in such a fascinating industry.”
Having been in the industry for the majority of her working life, Kate bought Wigan-based Belmont Packaging and Boxed-Up from her father in 2013. The company has never before had a female owner and Kate has advocated the notion of encouraging more women to join her team.
Her team is now made up of 40% women, several of whom are heading up roles of significant responsibility. “I’m passionate about ensuring women and working mothers be the best they can be and that they can have it all, being a good mum and fulfilling their potential at work.”
EFFECTIVE BUSINESS MODEL
Business models such as Belmonts’ are proving that women can be very successful in manufacturing and that they’re setting an example of how the industry might look in the future. Despite the gender gap in the industry, more women than ever are aware of the opportunities within manufacturing. Says Kate: “The variation in the industry is stimulating and we’re seeing more and more women who are starting to get involved.”
Kates’ energy and attitude has ensured company growth and her careful selection of staff – both male and female – has helped in landing a number of lasting working relationships from the likes of Hallmark, New Balance and Roots.
THE FUTURE OF MANUFACTURING
Despite figures, women are able to bring a multitude of skills to the industry, which Kate believes could be the key to faster growth within
the sector. “More women are needed in work to aid the economy,” she says. “Manufacturing is a wealth-creation industry, so the more the merrier! Women are able to bring softer skills to the party to aid cohesion and collective decision making.”
She also highlights that running a business in the manufacturing sector is just like running a business in any other area of industry. “Whether male or female, when running a business, self -belief, tenacity and the ability to bounce back after knocks are important.”
When asked for advice for anyone who may be considering a career or business venture into the manufacturing industry, Kate says: “Go for it, you only live once and you won’t regret it!”