Sarah Jaycock, Young Business Person of the Year 2019 on International Women in Engineering Day

23rd June is International Women in Engineering Day, which takes place annually to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the incredible career opportunities available to young women in this exciting industry. This year’s theme is #TransformTheFuture.

The day shines a light on inspirational women in engineering, such as Sarah Jaycock, Executive Director of High Spec Composites Ltd, who was named Young Business Person of the Year 2019 at the Oxfordshire Business Awards on Friday 14th June. Sarah is a fantastic role model to young women, showing what they can achieve in engineering, management and business and how successful a small company can be. Sarah is passionate about inspiring other young women and has recently joined the Careers & Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network, working strategically with her former school, The Bicester School, on their careers and enterprise programme.

Sarah is also a passionate supporter of Apprenticeships. Having grown her company using Apprenticeships and won awards for the programme, Sarah has supported the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards, both as a sponsor and as a member of the Awards Committee, since the awards began in 2017.

Sarah says: “I am the Executive Director of High Spec Composites Ltd, a leading composites manufacturer suppling high-specification carbon fibre components to a range of innovative sectors worldwide, specialising in Formula One.

My husband Matt and I combined our skills and a joint desire to progress into an operational business in 2010 and soon developed into a team of over twenty laminators, trimmers, inspectors and administration staff, working from a newly equipped facility primely located in Motorsport Valley.

Prior to launching High Spec, I had never really considered a career in engineering or motorsport, nor did I have a business background. I had followed the conventional further education route into university studying English Language and Literature; my interests lay within teaching, progression and, due to personal experience, advocating alternative pathways and career opportunities to young people. Despite being young and feeling a little unequipped, I could see the possibilities in starting a new business and in turn my own job role and felt excited by the challenge.

Matt had extensive knowledge in composites and a fantastic reputation within the F1 industry; I was able to apply my skills learned from further education by researching, organising and actioning the fundamentals of starting a business, from initial set-up to basic accounting, HR, employment law, health and safety and so forth. We adopted roles where Matt became responsible for sales and manufacturing and I took control of the day-to-day running, business-planning and development of High Spec.

As the business has become more established, I have been able to further my role embracing my enthusiasm for education and career pathways. High Spec Composites now offers a diverse range of employment opportunities from Level 2 and Level 3 Apprenticeships to a new re-train programme. We have developed and implemented an in-house skills matrix comprising of over 160 key industry skills directly related to employees pay and progression.

Alongside my directorial responsibilities, I joined the committee for the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards in 2017 representing small businesses in celebrating star Apprentices and Apprenticeship employers across the county and have most recently joined The Bicester School as their Enterprise Adviser where I will support the school at a strategic level, identifying gaps in the careers provision and developing a plan for the future.

My pathway into business, management and engineering has not been particularly conventional or straightforward, but rather a succession of embraced opportunities and learning from experience whilst applying skills acquired during my time in higher education. I am incredibly proud to have been awarded Young Business Person of the Year 2019 at the Oxfordshire Business Awards this June and hope my success can inspire other young women to have faith in their own abilities, explore exciting opportunities and to not be afraid of using their progression with careers as a platform for promoting their passions.” 

Sarah Jaycock
Executive Director
High Spec Composites

See Sarah talking in this video from the Oxfordshire Business Awards (from 2:10): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFE_2p66KKs&feature=youtu.be.

Find out more about International Women in Engineering Day at: www.inwed.org.uk and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #INWED19 and #TransformTheFuture.

If you’re interested in supporting a local school as an Enterprise Adviser, or supporting the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards 2020, please contact skills@oxfordshirelep.com.