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January 13, 2022


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

Women in Fire Safety

“Inspiring young people to see this incredibly important industry as a career option has been a key motivation for me” – Kate Blake on the importance of showcasing female talent in fire safety

Following a successful 2021, Kate Blake, OEM and International Sales Manager at Cranford Controls Ltd., and Co-Founder of the Women in Fire Safety Awards, is pleased to announce that the awards will return in November 2022.

In this article, Kate gives readers an insight into what motivated her and fellow Co-Founder, Chloe Vickery, to create the awards, how she’s adapting to her new position at Cranford Controls, whilst also shining a light on some of the women she is thrilled to now be working alongside.  

Kate Blake, OEM and International Sales Manager at Cranford Controls Ltd.

As a woman in my 50s, I have witnessed many positive changes for women in the industry over the years, but there are obviously so many more opportunities out there.

I am a mother of two adult sons as well as a teenage daughter and have seen the challenges for younger generations first-hand. Being able to inspire younger people to see this incredibly important industry as a career option has been a key motivation for me.

Chloe and I decided right at the beginning of our Women in Fire Safety (WIFS) journey that creating a video showcasing the different careers in the industry to present in schools and colleges would be a great idea, and with the support of organisations like the IFSA, and all the companies who have supported us, we can now not only show younger generation the different careers within the industry, but also provide them with a pathway of how to get there.

It’s always interesting when joining a new company to see the levels of diversity and culture present within the business and, in the spirit of WIFS, I would like to introduce some of the amazing, talented women I am honoured to be working alongside.

Halma Group has supported us at Women in Fire Safety from day one, so it was no surprise that diversity is very high on their agenda.

To highlight some of the amazing jobs within the Halma Group, I have asked four incredible women to talk about their roles and motivations.

Jen Rudder, Finance Director, Leadership Team at Apollo Fire Detectors

Jen Rudder

Jennifer started as an Accounting Analyst at ABB, quickly gaining experience to become the Business Unit Controller at a Medium Power Transformer Factory in the US Mid-west.

From there, she helped ABB’s US organisation with a successful, fast paced country-wide SAP system rollout. Her career stepped up a gear when she was invited to global headquarters in Zurich to work within the Shared Accounting Services global team, responsible for North American and Northern European regions.

A sabbatical and relocation to the UK saw Jennifer take up a position as a Global Division Financial Controller for ITW inc., before moving to Apollo in 2018. As Finance, IT and Sustainability Director, she is responsible for the company’s global Finance, IT and Sustainability teams, working closely with manufacturing and sales facilities in the UK, China, Italy and Germany.

She has taken the lead on a number of business-critical projects, successfully spearheading Halma’s 2020 Brexit planning. Recently, supported by the Group CFO, she has taken a lead on the next steps in Halma’s sustainability journey and is now also responsible for implementing next level sustainable business practices at Apollo.

Jennifer has a passion for manufacturing and working in the fire industry has given her numerous challenges and opportunities to learn and develop her experience, from understanding the technicalities of how a detector works through to the complexities of product certification.

She is also a pension trustee for Apollo, and a Non-executive Director for BEA Inc, and a trustee for WorldSkills UK.

Kelly Mannion, Customer Account Manager, Cranford Controls

Kelly Mannion

Kelly is a Customer Account Manager, dealing with approximately 150 UK and International accounts, while also being an enthusiastic netball player.

Kelly has accomplished many roles within Cranford, including production and warehousing, sales admin, purchasing and quality control, whilst raising her daughter who is now in her first year at university.

There have been many changes to Cranford over the years and Kelly always looks forward to the new opportunities and challenges. She is immensely proud to be a part of the team, watching it continue to grow and the impact her roles have played over the years.

Kelly has built long, loyal relationships with customers, suppliers and colleagues and plays a huge part in the smooth running of Cranford. As a valued team member Kelly knows how to support her team members and make them feel valued too.

Kelly always takes great pride in what she does. Whether it’s on the netball court, or in the office, she will always go above and beyond where possible.

Mo Goodfellow, Head of Brand & Communications at Apollo Fire Detectors Ltd. 

Mo Goodfellow

Mo has over 30 years’ marketing experience in Brand, Communications, Product Management, Education, Training, PR & Events. Working with Start-Ups to large Global Corporates, she has a wealth of senior management experience in retail and corporate businesses, working with household names such as Clinique, Estee Lauder, Virgin, Jamie Oliver and Liz Earle Beauty Co. Ltd.

Mo’s specialist knowledge of how to attract indirect customers and motivate a distributor sales force led her to Vorwerk in 2017, the global network of innovative, high-quality appliances.

As a Board member, Mo created a dual-brand omni-channel strategy, pioneering the way as a ‘trial’ market. She secured UK membership to the DSA and went on to launch Vorwerk’s first UK store.

Mo discovered a new opportunity in the fire industry during the pandemic in June 2020. Her current role is Head of Brand and Communications at Apollo, leading specialists in the manufacture of fire detection and alarm devices in over 100 countries around the world. Eager to stretch herself in a new area, she has found complete job satisfaction through bringing her set of skills into an industry that is often over-looked by women as a career.

Mo has delivered a strategic brand positioning framework and visual identity update to articulate the Apollo brand with clarity and impact. She strives for excellence, to ensure the best customer experience and engagement, building a community to raise awareness of the real issues and relevant news in the industry. Mo is passionate about Brand and Industry reputation and was immediately on board when approached by WIFS.

Sally Hall, Production Supervisor, Cranford Controls 

Sally Hall

Sally Hall from Hampshire loves the challenges of her role as production supervisor, she gains a great deal of satisfaction knowing the products she builds improve safety and could even go on to save lives.

Starting in the industry aged just 17, and gaining a wealth of experience in electronics and PCB assembly, Sally joined the company in April 2007 and steadily progressed. She now leads her team by example, building fire sounders and beacons which she often looks out for while out and about with family, pointing them out to her two young grandsons who are always amazed that Nanny helped to make them, they ask many questions about how they are made and what is inside them.

No two days in production are the same and Sally credits the great team she works with for keeping the ship a smooth one.

Sally would encourage anyone with an interest in the industry to grab any opportunity to be involved in producing lifesaving equipment.

The satisfaction gained personally is of great measure and has led Sally to decide there is no other industry for her and she hopes to remain involved until she retires.

As a woman, like many of us, I had found myself a minority in meetings and industry events, and I believe increasing diversity is something that we have to work together to gain. It’s not taking something from one group to give to another. We all benefit by creating opportunities for everyone in the future.

For enquiries regarding the Women in Fire Safety Awards 2022, readers are encouraged to contact Kate by email: [email protected] 

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