8TH MARCH, 2021

International Women's Day 2021

Share this page:

This International Women's Day we would like to celebrate the success of Gemma Grant.


International Women's Day 2021

International Women's Day was first recognised in Europe in 1911, 100 years on the day continues to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world.

Over the past year, we have all experienced the immense challenges of the pandemic both in our personal and professional lives.

This International Women's Day we are excited to celebrate Gemma Grant's success.

Gemma Grant, HSEQ Manager, AJT Engineering

Gemma started her working life as a dental nurse before finding her passion when she was moved by chance to the quality department to cover maternity leave. 20 years on, her love for HSEQ in the oil and energy industry is still strong.

"15 years ago I was moved to the quality department to cover maternity leave and I loved it, and that was the start of me getting involved with HSEQ and I've been doing it ever since."

AJT Engineering Workshop

I asked Gemma what she loves about working in HSEQ,

"No day is the same, you get to know all the staff because you're involved in all elements of the company. I'm quite a geek, I like reading all the regs and legislation, understanding it and interpreting it. Auditing is probably the most favourite part of my job, I love it, it's such a good thing to do internally to understand how a company works."

Engineering a Career

Prior to joining AJT in 2020, Gemma has faced, and overcome challenges as a female in a male dominated industry.  

"In the past I have definitely been overlooked for official promotions; I've been given the work but not the title."

In Gemma's experience, it has not only been the senior members of the team that have struggled with her being a woman,

"Luckily, I've only found two occasions where the man didn’t like a female being the one calling the shots. I've managed to work round it and build good relationships, but it's taken a lot, and I've had to show my worth."

Gemma describes her biggest frustration in being a woman in her work environment as the perception that women are emotional,

"I am a very passionate person and I can be quite fiery, and so when something is bothering me, I tend to vocalise that it's bothering me. Whereas a man can show his feelings, I'm seen as ‘emotional’ when I do the same thing, and that is something I don’t think will ever change."

After several knockbacks in her early career which left Gemma 'broken', she describes returning to work after having her first child as a pivot point, accrediting her boss at the time for helping her through a difficult period.

"He said he saw something in me that made him have faith and believe in me, but he realised I'd lost faith and belief in myself. After working with him for a couple of years the difference in me was phenomenal, just to have somebody have that belief in me, he bought me back from being a broken person, to be a strong person, to trust myself, to know my own capabilities. It would have been very different it I hadn’t had that person there."

2020, a new chapter at AJT Engineering

She speaks very highly of AJT and the working environment they have created,  

"When I came in for the interviews it really seemed like AJT were a company that cared. I've worked in places where H&S hasn't been at the level that I would expect it to be, and I've worked in companies where you've just been a number, it really felt that at AJT everyone was working together, so many folk have been here for 40 plus years which I've never seen before."

The past 60 years has seen a lot of change and evolution at AJT alongside many ups and downs in the oil and gas industry. The evolution continues and has, if anything, sped up over the past couple of years with new divisions being added to the AJT group including Site Services and Black Gold Oil Tools.

"The company is evolving, there are new divisions, the capabilities we have internally have grown, there are better skill sets, better knowledge, more opportunities, and it seemed like as much as the company is growing, it would take the staff with it, it wanted to be the best version of itself. I like the continuous improvement, I think things can always be better, so this being put out as a role that I could make what I wanted of it, with the support and buy in from management, that excited me."

Joining AJT just before the pandemic hit meant Gemma had more challenges than most when starting out with a new company. In such a hands on position working remotely has been difficult, but having the experience of living through a pandemic gives her the confidence that if this should happen again the business will be able to react quickly.

"There were pros and cons, the biggest negative for me is that when I start somewhere I tend to spend a lot of time on the shop floor, getting out on the shop floor and working with the guys makes seeing what the risks are a lot easier. Obviously, I couldn't do that as easily with the 2m distance rule.

The positive is that there has been less people on site, which has allowed me to get to know those individuals a lot better because I've had a lot more dealings with them."

Although a challenging time, the pandemic has helped to drive some areas of the business forward.

"We got our PED certificate which is a requirement that a lot of people have for pipe work, it is potentially a benefit for our fabrication shop, as well as some other areas, we spoke about getting it for over a year, but have managed to push it through in 2-3 months. This will improve the site services capabilities."

Gemma not only sees that it has been difficult for her personally but also for her colleagues, for the whole business.

"It's been a really challenging year for everybody, I think mental health is a really big part. We are quite lucky here, the guys on the shop floor and the office staff seem to deal with things quite well, and I know a lot of people aren't quite as fortunate. We are putting a big focus on mental health just now, to make sure that people actually are ok and know that if they are not they can come and talk and there's no judgement."


In her role as a manager Gemma takes great pride and satisfaction in mentoring her team. One in particular, Rachel, use to work on the shop floor but has now moved to the quality department.

"She has such a bright career ahead of her. The most important thing for me as a manager, whether you are male or female, is mattering.  Someone that genuinely cares about you, wanting to make sure that you are being challenged & finding that middle ground of support. Rachel definitely has that, in the last year she's come out of herself, she's more ambitious, she's all the kinds of things you want somebody in your team to be."

Aspirations for 2021 and beyond

2020 was a difficult year and 2021 is likely to see the difficult times continue, however Gemma is looking forward. She continues to make plans for developing the business as well as her own personal capabilities. She is working on new management systems, which once in place will allow an integrated system across the five sites. Although a big task, the aim is to complete this project by 2022. She also wants to complete her diplomas for H&S and quality.

"I've got a lot of practical experience but not a lot in the way of qualifications because I left school when I was 15. I would really like to get my diplomas behind me to better equip me to deal with issues that come up and to develop with the company. I'd like to expand my knowledge and support the business the best I can."

It is inspiring that Gemma has found a work life balance at AJT that really works for her. I asked Gemma if she has any advice to offer young women or men trying to forge a career in the industry?

"I think the best way to get respect and to succeed is to just keep going, get your hands dirty, muck in and to just show your value."

Our 2021 Annual Report is now available.