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Michelle Richmond, Director of Membership & Professional Development

When Michelle was a child she played with bikes, board games and cards. It was all about team play! Now, she manages a staff team of 140 people, 2,000 volunteers and a multi-million-pound budget responsibility. She says the biggest impact her work will have in the future is “to make sure there is a pipeline of new engineers entering the profession and setting standards to keep people safe.”

Age: 54

Job title: Director of Membership and Professional Development

Company employed by: The Institution of Engineering and Technology

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
Teacher specialising in teaching the deaf.

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
Making sure there is a pipeline of new engineers entering the profession and setting standards to keep people safe.

What excites you most about STEM?
See the problem, think about it and then solve it!

What do you love about your job? What would you change?
The variety of what I do and being able to make a difference. I’m never bored and wouldn't change a thing!

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Leading teams to delivery successful outcomes.

What does a typical day at work involve?
I manage a staff team of 140 people and over 2,000 volunteers with a multi-million pound budget responsibility. We make sure that engineers and technicians have the best opportunities to develop themselves through quality approved training and academic courses and professional qualifications. I also look after the IET’s 5-19 Educational school’s programmes which encourages children to look at engineering careers and be inspired by what engineering solutions can do for the world! There is no such thing as a typical day at the IET I could be in a Board meeting in London or judging the Faraday school’s challenge final in Scotland.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
I keep my hand in on project management as a modern membership organisation need technical platforms.

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
Both my parents were engineers. My Dad designed hovercrafts and my Mum was at the forefront of computing. Being an only child, I grew up hugely influenced by parents who knew how to problem solve and were practical! I was forever in the shed with my Dad and Grandad tinkering with wood, nails and tools.

Any influential toys during childhood?
Bicycle, board games such as Mouse Trap, Haunted House, Monopoly and card games. It was all about team play! I also loved automated dolls such as “Chatty Cathy” and “Tippy Tumbles”.

Your favourite subjects at school?
History and English Literature.

Qualifications (school/college/university):
I left school with GCSE’s in a broad range of subjects which allowed me to make the choice of pursuing an engineering career that ultimately lead to an engineering degree.

Your reason for choosing this career?
Although my name was put down for English, History and Geography A Levels in 6th Form I was ready to leave school. My parents insisted that if I did leave to find a job that had further education opportunities. I found an apprenticeship with Plessey Radar that had day release opportunities to get an ONC and HNC in electronic engineering.

Tell me about your career path to date?
After completing a four-year apprenticeship I specialised in Microwave Engineering. I continued studying part time and obtained an HND and then Degree in electronic and electrical engineering. I progressed from Principle Design Engineer to Project Manager on a big military radar system. I have had roles at Nokia, Matra Marconi Space (now Airbus) and a PA Consulting spin off Ubinetics. I became a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the IET. Now I’m the Director of Membership and Professional Development at the IET. I received an MBE for Services to Engineering in 2019

If you could have any job what would it be? How does it differ from what you’re doing?
Once I discovered microwave engineering as part of my apprenticeship placement I knew I didn’t want to pursue any other engineering specialism but I also found out I was good at managing complex projects and people, which lead to project and programme management. As part of my professional development I volunteered for IET accrediting academic degree courses which broadened my horizon’s and gave my confidence to apply for my first directors job at the IET! I love my job supporting engineers in achieving their professional qualification and leading a large team of staff and volunteers

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?
Try it …….. engineering is surprisingly creative and you can make a difference to solving world problems. You do not need to be an A Grade student in Maths and Physics!