12 January 2023

Tata Steel Spotlight: 15 questions with Eleanor Shorland

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We caught up with Eleanor Shorland, Packaging Recycling Education Officer, to find out about her role at the Tata Steel site in Trostre, Wales.

What is your current job title and how would you describe your job to a group of children?
Packaging Recycling Education Officer. In a nutshell, my job is to teach people about steel as a packaging material, the importance of recycling steel packaging, and how they can all help play a part in making sure we recycle as much steel as possible to help save some of the earth’s resources.

How did you first learn about Tata Steel?
I was looking for industry experience after my finishing my business degree and I came across the Communications placement position. I thought it would be good to get some experience from such a big company in the industry.

How has Tata Steel helped you in your career development?
The placement year I did with Tata Steel was a massive help in my career and personal development. As I was a mature placement student, because I was older, I think I got chucked in at the deep end. They gave me plenty of responsibility very early on and didn't hover over me. I had some autonomy over what I did, and I got involved in a lot of community outreach programmes. For me it was so valuable in building my confidence in the industry. 
I was able to write and get some comms experience on the internal newspaper and that helped later because now I do my own social media for packaging education. We’ve also just created an internal intranet page for our department and I'm going to start writing content for that platform. A lot that I learnt during my placement, I've transferred now into this role.

If you could swap your job with anyone else within Tata Steel, whose job would you want?
I really enjoyed working in Comms and within the local communities – which is why I probably fit well in education which is also about messaging and outreach. But I don't come under the Comms department at all now and so if I had to swap jobs, I might go for something linked to community fundraising. 

What advice would you give a school leaver?
Get a job! In anything. You don’t need to wait until you leave school either.
I think anything that can teach you how business works is valuable. The early work experience teaches you essential communication skills early on. Everyone should learn a bit of responsibility from the age of 16 or 17. It's important to learn to meet expectations, targets, and deadlines, because that is what will be expected from you in the workplace. Even if the work experience voluntary, do whatever you can. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The biggest challenge is trying to make recycling exciting for people. I'm trying to get people enthusiastic about it and it’s quite easy to do that with children, but it’s a different challenge for adults. I want to make people so excited about recycling when realise that it makes such a big difference – I want them to want to do it!

What gets you out of bed in the morning and into work?
It’s lovely when I go into a class who are really engaged, enthusiastic and eager to answer questions. It’s brilliant fun when teachers and students are willing to have a little laugh, and I do try and make things fun. When I can see them enjoying themselves and see that they’ve learned something it’s very rewarding. Often, they’ll say thank you, and ‘will you come back to see us again?’ and that’s wonderful to hear. 

What’s your favourite part of your role at Tata Steel?
I think it's nice that I get to do something that changes perception of the industry and shows a portion of the good things that we do. Recycling is beneficial to the environment, to society – to the whole world. I have a feel-good job and I know I’m doing something worthwhile.

Has anything surprised you about working for Tata Steel?
There are some senior leaders who are very engaged in our work. They engage on my social media, on posts, links, or videos. I think it’s wonderful that all levels of employees and the senior leadership team are invested in the education around steel recycling. Initially it was a surprise to see the level of commitment that the top-level bosses give all the way through the company, but now I understand it’s part of Tata Steel culture and it’s quite inspiring. 

What would you like to achieve in your next 5 years?
I would really love all Tata Steel employees know about our education programme and to have a high level understanding of the importance and process of packaging recycling and commit to being top recyclers! 
Another big goal is to set up a packaging recycling education room or building so we can invite our communities into Trostre, to create a hands on, high-tech learning experience – on site!

Just for fun:

What was the last TV show that you binge watched?
Stranger Things. I was a bit behind on it, but then as soon as we started watching it, I couldn't stop. And The US Office. We love that one as well.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Chips and dry shampoo. I know that’s two sorry – don’t make me choose!

What’s your favourite activity or hobby outside work?
We love going to the cinema as a family. I have three boys and we like to watch all the superhero films. We also got paddleboards this year and I went cold water dipping with my friends - I’d like to do more of these in 2023! 

What’s a fun fact about you that people may not know? 
I’m a superhero nerd, and not only because I have boys at home. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok.

What skill do you think everyone should learn at school?
Communication skills. Communication skills are lacking these days and the lockdowns haven’t helped the next generation of kids build that confidence. Also, I think an element of ‘how to look after finances’ would be so beneficial to young people. It seems so much more useful than learning trigonometry. And finally – reliability; an essential life skill.

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