Debbie Mellor, MD of Keighley Laboratories, has been elected to the management

Debbie Mellor, MD Keighley Laboratories

Debbie Mellor, MD Keighley Laboratories

committee of the Contract Heat Treatment Association (CHTA) and formally appointed a director, following the recent AGM. She is the only woman amongst eighteen CHTA officers and one of relatively few female chief executives in the engineering industry, although she feels that the increasing application of high technology provides a route for others to follow.

Formed in 1973, the CHTA represents the majority of companies providing sub-contract heat treatment services, together totalling over 70% of UK processing capacity, and its members have more than 2,500 years’ combined metallurgical experience. The membership is diverse, ranging from the world’s largest heat treatment company to the smallest, and it embraces every variety of thermal process, from annealing and hardening, to carburising and nitriding. The CHTA promotes, protects and champions the industry, recently publishing a comprehensive buyers guide and, through its umbrella organisation the Surface Engineering Association (SEA), negotiating entry into a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) to reduce members’ energy tax.

“Keighley Laboratories is a long-standing member of the CHTA and we believe it does a valuable job, in areas like the CCA initiative, government liaison through the SEA and representing the industry as a unified body ,” says Debbie. “Becoming a member of the management committee helps raise the profile of my company, enables me to network and share intelligence with industry counterparts, and lets me play a role in representing and promoting the metallurgical sector.”

Exemplifying the opportunities for career progression, Debbie joined Keighley Labs in 1986, as an office junior in the accounts department, progressing to Company Secretary by 1997, then becoming a board director in 2007. After a spell as Acting MD, she was appointed Managing Director in September 2008, presiding over a company that this year celebrates its 90th anniversary. Offering a wide range of sub-contract heat treatment processes and a broad array of metallurgical testing and laboratory facilities, the West Yorkshire company is unique in offering the two disciplines on one site, saving time and transport costs for clients of both services.

“It’s interesting being a women in what  is perceived as a man’s world,” says Debbie. “There is certainly room for more women in engineering. We recently recruited a female material sciences graduate to work in our laboratory, perhaps showing the way forward for other young women.”