International Women's Day - Cat McCrea

The final interview in our blog series to celebrate International Women’s Day is with Cat McCrea, who is the Commercial Manager at SAM.  When Cat isn’t working, she enjoys playing hockey and going for walks with her wife and dog.  She also loves the slopes and managed to get away on two ski trips last year!

1. Tell us about your role within SAM
There is a lot of variety in my role as Commercial Manager, from working on budgets and carrying out cost sheet analysis to reviewing price lists and working on operational projects.

2. How did you get into manufacturing and find your passion for the industry?
It is in my blood – SAM is my family business – my dad, Sam McCrea, is the founder and CEO of the business and he set it up with my mum in 1990 when I was 1, so I have grown up with SAM.

3. What made you want to get into the profession?
I have grown up surrounded by SAM, however, my two sisters and I were never pushed towards working in the company and my love and passion as a kid was sport. When I was 18, I went off to university and after I graduated I started my own successful career as a PE teacher, however, as much as I loved my job, I always had the desire to return to the family business.

4. What are your views on the manufacturing industry as it stands?
Northern Ireland has a long and proud manufacturing history and according to Invest NI, “Manufacturing within Northern Ireland has grown almost three times faster than the rest of the UK with employment in manufacturing accounting for 11% of employment in Northern Ireland.” This highlights what an exciting and dynamic industry it is and I’m proud to work for a company that sits within Northern Ireland’s Manufacturing 100.

5. Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
The manufacturing industry is key to Northern Ireland. We have an excellent manufacturing record of success growing at faster rates than our larger UK counterparts, and so it is exciting to be a part of an industry that is performing at an accelerated pace, and particularly within a company that is leading the way as the UK’s manufacturer of choice for interior and exterior MDF mouldings.

6. What advice do you have for other women keen to get into the manufacturing industry?
Well in the words of Nike, ‘Just Do It’. We live in a time where boundaries are what we make them. If you have a passion or desire for something, then the only thing that is standing in your way of succeeding is yourself.

7. What would you say to people who think the manufacturing industry works only for men?
I don’t believe in stereotyping – I believe if you have a desire to do something you shouldn’t let anything hold you back. I think my mum helped prove any stereotype wrong when she helped my dad create and shape SAM into the successful and renowned company it is today.

8. When you are hiring, what do you look for in candidates? What makes someone a great fit at SAM?
The most important characteristic for me is a ‘can do’ attitude. SAM has a track record of employee retention and development. We have had many employees move from one department to another, whether that be from the factory floor to a management level within the office or from the finance department to the sales department, from scheduling to ICT, etc. As a company, our people are our most valuable asset, and with a ‘can do’ attitude our employees are able to continue to develop and find their passion within the business.

9. What is your favourite part of your career?
The variety – each day always throws new challenges to overcome.

10. What woman inspires you?
Serena Williams – she has broken so many records and just keeps getting stronger. She has won 23 grand slam singles, 14 grand slam doubles and has 4 Olympic Gold Medals. I mean, a woman who can win the Australian open whilst pregnant, go on to have a healthy baby and come back to compete at the same elite level is an inspiration to anyone!

And that completes our blog series! We have many fantastic men and women working within SAM and contributing daily to the success of our company and it has been great to celebrate International Women’s Day by recognising some of our talented female team members. Watch this space for our team focus blog series to celebrate International Men’s Day on the 19th November.