Empowered with a Career Change at Schneider

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I started my working life in Financial Services back in the early 1990s.  I think it would be fair to say that I had a short but meteoric career which came to a pause when I had my three children.  Having had a career break of 15 years, it was challenging to say the least to re-enter the workforce.  No matter how successful I might have been in the past, getting employers to see past the “stay at home Mum” role proved extremely difficult especially when making a career change.

Sally field service engineer at Schneider Electric career change

I entered the world of energy and electrical engineering more by accident than design and it is where I have been for the past 5 years.  I would not have thought it possible for someone like myself who certainly does not have prior knowledge of the industry to be successful in such a career change.  However, it is possible.  I would counsel fellow mothers returning to work to not to be put off by the word “engineering”.  Looking after your customer’s needs does not require technical knowledge and with a company like Schneider, you will be given the support you need to gain the confidence required to succeed.

What interests you in your role, how has your role/career developed in Schneider?

Putting the Customer First is at the heart of what I do and is what makes my job so rewarding.  Understanding the implications for the customer if we fail to deliver on our commitments focuses on the mind.  I look after customers in both the Banking and Finance Sector and Healthcare.  In a financial institution, a power outage can result in the loss of billions of dollars and in a hospital, loss of life.  The service delivered by Schneider is essential for the wheel of operations managed by my customers.

I made a career change after 15 years and joined Schneider two years ago in the role of V2 Sales Engineer for Field Services.  I am still in that role today and continue to #LearnEveryDay.

What’s a big challenge for you right now?

Ensuring that we as a company deliver on the promises that we have made to the customer.

How would you explain your job to people not from our industry? 

Keeping the lights on!  On a personal basis, I am measured on the value of sales that I bring in; however, I see my job as that of an Account Manager.  Understanding the needs of the client and meeting them, whether that be by bringing new product and service solutions to their attention or by ensuring that any interactions that they have with Schneider are responded to in a timely and efficient manner.  Though I wear a “Field Services” hat, I am able to navigate the internal functions that exist within Schneider in terms of the different businesses to make sure that whatever the customer query is, it is dealt with efficiently.

How has Schneider supported you?

Schneider has supported my career change by seeing my potential and employing me, despite my not having an engineering background and limited technical knowledge.

Sally at a work event with a Schneider co-worker

Who has supported you, been a guide or role model?  How?

I have been very fortunate in that I have been unofficially mentored by several individuals who have very different skill sets and approaches.  This has enabled me to benefit by seeing how these variances can be applied and utilised in different scenarios.  They are all lovely people and having good relationships with colleagues is what makes coming to work fun!

What makes it exciting working in our industry?

Life today – truly is ON!  Reflecting the Schneider motto.  All the technological advancements that we are now so dependent upon – all fall over if the power goes down.  Being at the heart of an industry which is fueling all of the things that we use on a daily basis in an exciting place to be.

What’s impressive to you about Schneider Electric in terms of its people, culture, work, opportunities, etc?

Working for an organisation which is regularly congratulating people for 20, 30 and 40+ years of continuous service is truly impressive.  I am but two years into my Schneider journey but I hope to be here for many years to come.

The systems and processes in place to support employees in their career progression is exceptional.  There are many benefits in place for employees which are easily accessible, from the company Share Incentive Scheme to Perks at Work (a shopping discount tool), Step Up Rewards (a colleague recognition reward scheme) to mental health support.

How can we support the progression of female careers across Schneider Electric?

I think that this is something that is already well underway.  Admittedly, particularly in the sales environment, women are still few and far between – but for those of us that are already here, I believe that we would unanimously agree that we are actively being encouraged and assisted to progress.

How does Schneider Electric promote and support a flexible working culture, how does this relate to yourself?

My position is categorised as “Travelling Appointment”, enabling me with the flexibility to manage my working day to ensure I deliver my goals and more importantly meet the needs of the customer. As such I have no specific office that I am tied to.  The vast majority of my time I am out visiting clients at their sites, however, if I do have a day with no meetings I am able to work from home thus removing travel time which is good for Schneider and for me!

Sally McLaughlin Schneider Electric

What advice would you give to your “younger self”?

I am not sure that I was very good at taking advice when I was younger as I probably thought I had all the answers! If I was to catch my younger self in an unguarded moment I would tell myself: Be a positive influence on those around you in any way that you can.  Even simple little helpful acts can make others – and you – much happier.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Self-perception is a peculiar thing!  I hope that others would describe me as kind, funny and tolerant (though I think I might be a bit optimistic with the tolerant!)

Myself in three words:  Organised, Energetic and Tenacious.

What’s the one best piece of career advice you’ve been given, and why is it relevant at Schneider Electric?

The best bit of advice that I have ever had, was given to me by my Grandmother.  She told me that the most powerful tool is to be surrounded by people who WANT to help you.  So, the advice was to ensure that all interactions with others left them with a good feeling about themselves and you so if you ever needed their support they were not just willing, but happy to give it.  This advice is sound in every instance, however, with an organisation as large as Schneider to have a network of people who actively want to help you and are willing to leverage their own connections to help is invaluable.

How do you ensure upon your great well-being & do you have any activities outside of work?

I love the outdoors and am kept pretty busy on my partner’s farm.  We have a bit of a menagerie, Chickens, Indian Runner Ducks, Gloucester Old Spot Pigs.  I am never happier than when I am tending my vegetable patch listening to The Archers.  Gathering the produce I have grown and converting it into a meal my friends and family will enjoy, is one of my life’s greatest pleasures.

About the Author

Sally McLaughlin career change at Schneider ElectricSally works on the Field Services Team, selling cross-technology, multi-business unit solutions to clients predominately in the Financial Services arena. She lives and works in the South of England with the vast majority of her customers being in Central London. Sally started her career in financial services and then transitioned to being a full-time stay at home mum. After 15 years, Sally rejoined the workforce with a career change as a field services engineer.

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  • Baldur Krahl

    4 years ago

    Your post hits home for me. My wife is an engineer by education as myself, and she put the career on hold for 17 years to raise our kids. When our youngest was 8 years old, I get home from work one day and out of the blue my wife says, “I’m ready to go back to work.” The walls started to spin and I almost fainted, I was definitely not ready for that curve ball.
    Long story short, Schneider Electric hired my wife Mayra and she is going on her 12th year with the company. #lifeison #Ecostruxure #

  • Balaji Lenka

    4 years ago

    Very motivating to see Sally jump to a totally different role after a long gap and able to stand out.. Inspiring

  • I loved your story, it has inspired me to think about the possibility of changing my career path, and pursuing a similar path to yours. Something I would not have considered until reading your story, thank you.

Comments are closed.