As part of International Women’s Day 2021, event organisers are encouraging people of all gender identities to call out gender bias and inequality and choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements using the hashtag #choosetochallenge.
Here we speak to and celebrate some of the key achievements of Sam Austin, who is Compliance Manager and has worked for Centurion Safety for over 30 years.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is #choosetochallenge – what is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
I have been very lucky in my career at Centurion, as I have never faced any challenges with being a woman. The company has always promoted or employed a person based on their skills and knowledge rather than their gender.
For me, the biggest challenge I have faced is the universal challenge of balancing a career I love with being a mum. From leaving school I have always worked and only stopped when my two sons were born – taking six months off each time. Like many working mums there were times when I questioned whether I was a bad mum for going to work and leaving my children at nursery. I agonised over whether my children would love the nursery staff more than me and whether it would affect our bond. I also wondered whether they would resent me for working and not staying at home with them in later life.
Well, 19 years on and I’m pleased to say ‘my boys’ have grown up to be the most rounded, sociable, confident and kind young adults I could have hope for and I am so proud of them both. They are both completely different (as most siblings are) but each of them has had a fantastic work ethic throughout their education which has continued as they move into the world of work. I am sure that growing up seeing me in a job I enjoy has helped build their positive perception of work.
What piece of career advice would you give to your younger self?
Find a career you love and find interesting. It does not matter what it is if you generally enjoy going to work each day and can come home at the end of the day with a smile on your face. We all work far too many hours not to enjoy it what we do.
I started working at Centurion in July 1990 as a purchasing assistant within the production department. I have always been happy to help and learn new things and when the opportunity arose to move into the production planning and running of the shop floor, I grabbed it with both hands and enjoyed every minute.
As a leader my team are the most important thing and I not only love to see them grow as individuals but also within the team itself. I believe I am a firm but fair leader and have always tried to deliver on any commitments I make. I believe respect is something that you gain over time based on the way you handle situations and people. Mutual respect goes a long way and certainly helps people go that extra mile when needed.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A vet! I have always loved animals and to this day our house is like a zoo!
Why should women consider a career in the PPE Industry?
We help to save lives! What better industry is there to be in?
A common complaint from women in industry is that they cannot find PPE that fits because many of the products on offer have been designed for men.
What is Centurion doing to address this?
It is true, PPE has historically been made for men and it has been difficult for women to access correct and comfortable PPE. The more women there are in the sector the more we can push to make this a thing of the past.
Centurion’s “voice of the customer” program is valuable for ensuring our products are designed for a diverse range of end users.
International Women’s Day 2021 takes place on March 8th: www.internationalwomensday.com/