Manufacturing profile: Ellie Whiteley

Ellie Whiteley graduated from Sheffield University in 2016 and joined us as a manufacturing trainee in 2018. Now working as a shift manager at our Energy Operations department in Scunthorpe, Ellie shares her journey...

What was your first role at British Steel? And what's happened since?

I joined the company in 2018 as a manufacturing trainee. My 3½-year journey since has been packed with training on a number of topics including plant safety, gas, air, turbine, boiler, oil and water systems. The first 9 months were full of intense training at the Turbo Blower House, which enabled me to progress to become a plant operator. Since then I've also learned and worked on Work Services, the department that covers water, gas and compressed air distribution on and off site. In September 2021, I was promoted to Shift Manager in the Energy Operations team.

Since starting the shift manager role, I have been involved in overseeing operations at Turbo Blower House, Central Power Station and Work Services, as well as working with Gas Control and Fuel. We strive to operate our department as efficiently and effectively as possible, with safety being paramount.

To learn a completely new set of skills has been very rewarding and I feel I fit very well into the department.

What was your experience before joining British Steel?

I studied at Sheffield University and graduated in 2016 with a BA degree in Russian and Spanish. I then worked and studied as a teacher and translator in Spain, Russia, Poland and Italy - I did this for a few years after graduating and although the experiences were great, I decided I wanted to do something completely different.

I'd always been interested in doing something technical / mechanical, but never really knew where to start. And I've always been interested in British Steel, with most of my family working or having worked here. My father was always enthusiastic about his job at the steelworks so when I knew the company was taking on new trainees, I took the opportunity. The manufacturing apprenticeship was a fantastic way to start - it's great to meet people with very similar work ethics and interest in plant. It has given me a great depth of appreciation of plant and the complex processes.

It was a big career change, but one I've never regretted. I love working for British Steel and feel extremely passionate that my family have supported the business and also how the business has supported the town. 

What does your day-to-day role involve?

My day-to-day role includes a variety of important routine procedures, checks and operations working with our gas, air, steam, water oil, heating and compressed air systems. Our main purpose at the Turbo Blower House is to provide a constant supply of cold blast air to our blast furnaces, using our 6 boilers and 5 turbine blowers. We also supply process steam to other areas on the site and generate electricity whenever possible.

Why do you enjoy working for British Steel?

I love working for British Steel as it gives me a sense of pride for supporting the town I was raised in. I'm also proud of working for a leading brand whose quality is renowned worldwide.

Being in the Energy Operations team has given me an endless list of new skills and competencies. I find my job at the Turbo Blower House thoroughly interesting as I’m constantly learning new things – every day is a school day!

I also love the people I work with and there’s a great team ethos; we all work well together to make decisions and solve problems. The shift pattern is also great – there's a perfect balance between work and play. 

What is your proudest achievement?

I feel especially lucky and proud to have a job that I look forward to every day.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Probably that I have a degree in languages. Lots of us at British Steel come from different work backgrounds and having this mixture of skills and experiences complements each other really well.

What advice would you give to other people considering a career at British Steel?

If you put in the work, you can achieve anything! With the right attitude and desire to study and learn, you can succeed in the business. 

Applying to work at British Steel was the best decision I've ever made. If you find yourself in a similar situation wanting a career change into this industry, our manufacturing programme is a great place to start.

I hope to serve the company for a long time and look forward to seeing what the future holds with Jingye.