Atlas Copco’s Bremmell calls on young engineers to push boundaries

small business women

Regional manager Lisa Bremmell spoke with Manufacturers’ Monthly about her unconventional path to becoming a leader at Atlas Copco.

Lisa Bremmell didn’t follow the conventional path to become an engineer, and neither does she profess to be formally trained.

Lisa Bremmell

Twenty-four years ago, after gaining some exposure to the profession while serving in the Royal Australian Air Force, she successfully interviewed for an operational role at Siemens.

Bremmell worked for more than a decade with Siemen’s telecommunications division, before transitioning to managerial roles at BlueScope Steel and Rockwell Automation.

She believes her role as regional manager within the industry would not have been possible almost a quarter of a decade ago.

“To actually control a region was something I thought was more than aspirational,” she said.

Bremmell calls herself a “frustrated engineer”, who has been interested in how things work for her whole life.

“I purposely sought out roles that would have an industrial technical focus, because I believe that gives you so much exposure to so many facets of business,” she said.

Bremmell feels that young aspiring engineers need to push beyond their comfort zone and seek the right answers.

“Very early on in my career, I had a senior technician with a great breadth of experience say to me, ‘look you seem like a really nice person, but you’re not technical, and I have shoes older than you, so how can you tell me what to do,” she said.

“You’ve got to work at it. I’m a firm believer that you can’t command respect and trust. You have to earn it by actions and the way you conduct yourself on a daily basis.

“I’m happy to say that the same person, several years later, was one of my strongest advocates in the team.

“One of the things I really enjoy is undertaking the role of trades assistant for the day, let people know you want to understand what role they play in the team, build your credibility, and show that you’re not afraid.”

A relatively new starter at Atlas Copco, Bremmell credits the company for their faith in her abilities.

“They were just accepting. They historically probably had people from the industry that have worked their way through, so I come at it from a different angle.”

Her ultimate vision for the team in Western Australia is to become the national flagship, which she hopes to achieve by building relationships with clients through good and bad times.

The team has field engineers in Perth, and remote technicians in Kalgoorlie and Karratha.

“I believe we have an incredibly strong but small team,” Bremmell said.

“Ultimately, to grow our footprint especially in our remote areas is something that I’m very keen to do, and I’ve had experience over the years in growing remote teams successfully.”

Bremmell, who was recently appointed a diversity ambassador with the company, said inclusion and diversity within Atlas Copco are not considered merely motherhood statements, and that is something she is proud to be associated with.

“I really feel that I am included, I’m not a token,” she said.

Bremmell said inclusion and team building has been part of her daily highlights during the first six months.

Incorporating other avenues of communication has been an important part of servicing clients during COVID-19. One of the main challenges is keeping employees safe during on-site visits for maintenance work.

“Working from home isn’t an option in our environment, because it’s on-site repairs, breakdowns, preventative maintenance, so it’s about keeping our people safe but still allowing them to do what they need to do,” she said.

“Where we can employ technology, be that via applications, online solutions or video conferencing platforms we’ve adopted quickly, and am more reliant on those than ever in this changing face of social distancing interactions in a business sense.”

“We’ve not only got our internal requirements and processes that we’ve put in place, but we also have to fit in with our clients.

“Our clients can be everything from hospitals through to mine sites. And they’ve all got different degrees of implementation.”

It hasn’t always been an easy path for Bremmell, who believes young engineers should not be afraid to ask questions and not be afraid to roll up their sleeves.

“If you show genuine interest, people on a whole want to share their experience with you,” she said.