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A Special Piping Materials Interview with Dawn Sheppard

Dawn Sheppard is the General Manager of Special Piping Materials’ Manchester headquarters and is a real asset to the company. Read on to find out more about her, why she has worked for Special Piping Materials for so long and what precautions the team is making against coronavirus. 

Dawn Sheppard Special Piping Materials

Dawn Sheppard is based in our Manchester Head Office and is one of our most valued and longstanding members of staff, having worked for us for 24 years. She is the General Manager and HR Manager in Manchester and, as well as supporting all the staff located there, also works to assist all our offices across the globe.

Dawn is part of an expert team in Manchester who are extremely knowledgeable about the piping world, where the opportunities are and how best to support their clients. They supply high specification pipes, fittings and flanges to a wide range of industries, including LNG, desalination, oil & gas and the nuclear industry.


Read on to find out more about Dawn’s role in in the team.

  1. Can you give us an overview of your career so far?

I started at Special Piping Materials as an office junior straight from school. Over the years I have worked across all of the departments before I settled in the sales team, looking after the Middle East. I also have a CIPD qualification which assists in my role as HR Manager.

I can’t quite believe I have worked here for 24 years – I certainly didn’t think I would be here for so long when I first took the job, but I must be doing something right to still be here!

  1. What’s your favourite (and least favourite) day-to-day task?

My least favourite day-to-day job is dealing with IT as I find it so frustrating! ‘Have you tried restarting it’ is always the first way I deal with it!

I do enjoy problem solving and helping other staff members from all of the offices to solve any issues they have. In particular, I like dealing with big projects from start to finish and working with the client the whole way through. It means you can get involved in the technical side of things as well as all the documentation and shipping logistics. There is something very satisfying in seeing a job through to the end!

  1. What has made you stay working at SPM for so long?

The company is family-owned, and I think that makes a big difference in the way they look after their employees. Everyone looks out for everyone else and we all look after each other which creates a really nice work environment. There are several members of staff who have worked here for a long time and I think it’s because we feel like one big family!

I also really like working with the other offices around the world – not a day goes by without me speaking to someone from the Perth, Singapore, Middle East, Brazilian, Texan or Scottish offices.

  1. What is your focus at the moment in your role?

We are currently working in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. This means that the big focus for me at the moment has been keeping the office and warehouse open and functioning to meet our clients’ needs while also maintaining safety for all our valued staff.

Normally I am focused on a myriad of things like HR, Health & Safety, Quality Control etc – every day is different!

  1. What keeps you motivated at work each day?

It has to be the team I work with! All the departments work seamlessly together and really support each other in our day-to-day roles. We work hard for each other and this camaraderie is really motivating.

  1. How has coronavirus affected your working life?

Coronavirus has meant huge changes to my normal working life as I am currently working from home for half the week. This comes with challenges of course but it has worked surprisingly well. We have all had to adapt out roles slightly to be able to deal with things and this has meant helping each other out with tasks we might not normally do.

As always, the team has pulled together. We all talk a lot on the phone and we have been having frequent Microsoft team chats and the occasional quiz!

  1. What precautions are your team taking against coronavirus?

We have had to carry out a detailed risk assessment to ensure the safety of all our staff that have to come in to work – obviously their safety is our priority. We have also split into two teams which has helped keep any contact to a minimum. We have recently introduced a new office plan alongside various new safety measures, and we are doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus.

  1. How do you relax after a hard day’s work in the office?

When not in work, I love spending time with my 6-year old son Sam whose thoughts on the world are very refreshing and relaxing to listen to after a day in the office. I am also very partial to a refreshing gin & tonic to unwind in the evening!

  1. If you had to choose another office around the world to work in, which would it be and why?

It’s a hard question this as I think all the teams are great fun and I would be happy to work with any of them.

At a push though I think I would choose Australia as I would love to experience the lifestyle out there and it would be so interesting to be in a place that is so far away from here!

  1. What activities do you and your colleagues do together?

We are all good friends here at Special Piping Materials and frequently meet outside of work. We even did The Crystal Maze in Manchester a few months ago which was a great night out. I’m looking forward to organising many more social events together when coronavirus is behind us.

  1. What do you think the future holds for the piping world?

I think that coronavirus means that the industry will be possibly facing some uncertainty in the months ahead. However, here at Special Piping Materials we aim to stay flexible and positive in finding new opportunities. For example, we are now stocking new product ranges, such as 316/L Stainless Steel which has opened new prospects for us and means that we are able to support more clients in new industries.

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