A CRANFIELD businesswoman is enjoying tremendous success in not one but TWO male-dominated environments – engineering and the Middle East, writes David Tooley.
Mother-of-two Dr Yolande Herbath is one of three directors at BHR Group, a fluid engineering consultancy based in Cranfield,
BHR provides services for a diverse number of industries including water, environment and power.
Dr Herbath, pictured, has in the past year tripled the overseas activity of her division, using drive and determination and the support of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). She joined the company 15 years ago as an engineer, working her way up to commercial manager and was appointed director in April 2010.
Dr Herbath first visited the Gulf, alone, in 2007. She said: “The prospect of travelling to the Middle East on my own was initially quite daunting.
“However, I did my homework with UKTI before embarking on the trip, so gained a solid understanding about the cultural differences and what to expect. For example, I knew to wear an abaya at all times and not to sit in the front of the taxi.
“However, during my first meeting I had no choice but to break the rule of women not being allowed to use lifts in public buildings. My meeting was on the seventh floor so this didn’t seem like an option at the time!”
Dr Herbath completed a part-time PhD in Biotechnology and has been appointed to chair British Water’s International Forum. She represents UK water companies on the global stage.
Over the past three years she has visited six countries in the region and commissioned research from UKTI in each of these markets. This has led to considerable success with business from the Middle East making up over 70 per cent of sales in her division totalling around £1.12million.
But Dr Herbath said BHR is only at the beginning of its exporting work. She said: “My trips to the Middle East get easier every time because I now fully understand the etiquette, culture and business ethos. I was recently appointed head of Middle East activity at BHR Group, so I’m now trying to encourage and teach other teams in the company to build on this success and seize the opportunities out there. This really is only the beginning!”
UKTI international trade advisor Anton Rudgalvis, said: “BHR Group is an excellent British company, which approaches new export markets in a way that is considered and effective. The success of BHR in the Middle East is the result of Yolande’s hard work and determination. It has been an absolute pleasure to support her and BHR throughout this journey.”
“There are numerous opportunities for companies like BHR Group in the Middle East but, as Yolande rightly says, it is essential to do the groundwork. I’d therefore advise any companies considering this region to get in touch and see how UKTI can help.”
Visit www.bhrgroup.com and www.ukti.gov.uk