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Alison McDougall

Alison McDougall has worked on many exciting engineering projects during her career - from coal-fired power plants to submarines. But what she enjoys most is project management. Today, she is responsible for overseeing the construction of our new factory in Amesbury, USA.

Who or what inspired you to become an engineer?

My journey to becoming an engineer started with my passion for math and the sciences, especially chemistry. When it was time to choose a degree, I researched options focused on chemistry and math, and chemical engineering stood out. I attended an engineering college in London and received a sponsorship from Babcock Engineering, which provided me with valuable internships and a guaranteed job after graduation. These internships exposed me to diverse projects, from working in Europe's largest coal-fired power station on emissions reduction to precision fabrication of the nuclear pressure vessels for Britain's Trident submarines. After this varied experience, I landed in Glasgow as a Project Engineer and discovered my passion for project management.

What do you do at Munters, and what do you enjoy the most in your current role?

After moving to America, I joined Munters. Initially, I worked as a Project Engineer in the Zeol (now Clean Tech) division, utilizing my chemical engineering background. Over the years, I transitioned to HCT, progressing through various project and sales management roles. Currently, I serve as a Program Manager, overseeing the Amesbury 2.0 new factory project.

I find great fulfillment in project management due to the collaborative nature and the daily variety it offers. Although it presents challenges, they contribute to the job's overall interest. Learning from my colleagues is a constant source of growth, and I particularly enjoy the planning aspect of project management. Flexibility and adaptability are crucial when unforeseen situations arise.

My engineering degree has given me the credibility and confidence to actively contribute to different aspects of the projects I've been involved in. It has also enabled me to take on more challenging positions within the organization.

What are you most proud of so far in your career?

Working on demanding projects like nuclear and defense projects has been a source of pride. These endeavors involved complex specifications, high-quality requirements, and managing demanding customers. The most rewarding aspect for me, as a Project Manager, is the teamwork and collaboration required to succeed.

What are some of the challenges you have faced being a female engineer?

Being a female engineer hasn't always been easy, from facing practical challenges like inadequate facilities on-site (at the power plant I had to walk a mile to find the nearest female bathroom) to the loneliness of being the only woman in the room, and even encountering hostility and abusive behavior. I have had colleagues (luckily not at Munters) tell me that as a woman my place should be in the home. However, there have been improvements over the years, with movements supporting women and clearer company policies in place. Despite progress, there is still room for improvement, as women in America continue to face gender disparities.

What advice would you give to young women contemplating a career in engineering?

To younger women, I advise seeking female role models and trustworthy colleagues. Trust your instincts, have confidence in your self, and be patient as change takes time. Each step contributes to progress, so never give up and never doubt yourself. While America is yet to see a woman in the highest office, this is commonplace in other countries. Working at Munters, a global company, allows us to learn from colleagues of different nationalities, share experiences, and incorporate the best of our cultures into our work.

On a typical day, I don't feel defined by being a "female" engineer. We are all Munters employees, contributing our strengths to our jobs. Munters actively promotes a culture free of bias and encourages diversity. It is essential for all employees, regardless of gender, to combat discrimination in all its forms, be it based on gender, race, or religion.

Tell us about your family and hobbies.

I consider myself fortunate to have a wonderful family. I met my husband at Munters, and we have three children. Our youngest will be heading off to college soon, allowing my husband and me more flexibility to travel. We reside in Newburyport, a coastal town near the Amesbury facility. We enjoy summers at the beach, water activities, and spending quality time with family and friends.

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