A forever-evolving soul
Not everyone can claim to have worked on a submarine at the start of their career. Read on to find out how Catherine Charlesworth got the opportunity to do this and more at Wärtsilä.
Catherine Charlesworth has been studying history, politics and technology. Out of these, the latter was the field she decided to make into her trade, working in a number of technology-related roles in the marine industry.
In a career spanning 20 years, Catherine has worked as a Marine Engineering Artificer, an Oil Spill Response Specialist, a Sales Support Engineer, and is now employed with Wärtsilä United Kingdom as a Manager in the Agreement Sales department.
“I started working for Wärtsilä as part of the Customer Support department specialised in deep sea seals. From there, I moved to support services sales when the department was created in 2008. I worked as a Sales Support Coordinator for 6 years before taking over the management of the department in 2015,” she says.
An experience to remember
Catherine’s most enduring memory of her time at Wärtsilä occurred right at the start of her career with the company. Initially employed as part of the Seals and Bearings team as a Technical Support Engineer, she was called on to assist in the replacement of a stern seal on board a submarine.
“For me, this happened fairly early on in my Wärtsilä career. This memory sticks in my mind, as it is not everyone that gets an opportunity to be on-board these vessels. Being involved in the hands-on part helped me gain a better understanding of the product and the environment in which it works,” she explains.
Catherine credits Wärtsilä for providing her with this and other opportunities, and also for the support given to shift into different roles easily. What makes Wärtsilä different, she says, is the enabling environment which is quite unlike any other company she has worked with.
“This industry is predominantly male-oriented,” she explains. “Wärtsilä has given me the opportunity to show that gender is no barrier and that everyone can succeed and progress within the company.”
“A lot of the people I worked with at the start of my career with Wärtsilä are also still with the company in various roles. I think that in some way highlights that this is a place where you can grow,” she adds.
The importance of change
So, what does Catherine feel is the secret to a successful career at Wärtsilä? “Think out-of-the-box and fail fast,” she says without hesitation. This is something she has learned first-hand while managing the Sales Support department in the company.
“When I first took over managing the Sales Support department, I was very keen to try out new things to proactively support our Sales team. Consequently, we trialled various initiatives, including pursuing overhaul and upgrade opportunities,” she explains. “I learnt not to be afraid to make changes where required, but also to admit when things were not working.”
“These try-outs also highlighted to me the differences within the team and how team members might approach new initiatives in various ways. This was a very valuable lesson,” she emphasises.
In the 13 years she has worked at Wärtsilä, Catherine has seen the company transform into a technologically savvy, smart solutions provider, one that’s ready to embrace disruption through open collaboration.
“There have been many changes in the company since I started. I think the work that has been done with start-ups to engage with them and look at how we can co-create with them is a great way of inspiring innovation and ensuring that we stay ahead,” she says.
Over the next few years, Catherine sees herself contributing more towards Wärtsilä’s Smart Marine and Smart Energy visions, using her experience and skillsets to grow the company businesses.
However, it’s not going to be all work and no play for this determined go-getter. While she already leads an active life with plenty of time spent at the gym and in swimming, Catherine is also planning on learning to ride a motorbike and play the guitar this year.
“Life is all about evolving. Change is a constant and it has to be, otherwise, how can we have an interesting life?” she asks in conclusion.