Handbags More Important Than Engineering Signals Business Editor

An indicator of the way UK media view engineering

If ever there was an  indicator of the way UK media view engineering it could be seen in last Friday’s issue of the Daily Telegraph.

A single page in the business section presented the year-end figures of two companies.  AIM listed handbag maker Mulberry making £1.9m profit on a turnover of £110m, and FTSE250 WS Atkins the innovative engineering company making £122m profit on a revenue of £1.76bn.


Which gets the most airspace? …. yes, you’ve guessed it, HANDBAGS by a mile.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 14.04.56Mulberry commands much of the broadsheet page including a large photograph of Cara Delevingne, plus handbag and owl, alongside a smaller shot of CEO Godfrey Davis.

Atkins by comparison is tucked in the bottom corner with no pictures. If I was Uwe Krueger the CEO of Atkins I’d be seriously miffed.

Atkins is a company at the very forefront of UK civil engineering, highly innovative and constantly pushing construction boundaries. They are also a key mover in efforts to promote STEM subjects in schools and encourage girls to consider a career in engineering.

Mulberry, on the other hand, strikes me as a business still relying on designs from the 1980s and could well do with some innovation of its own.

Why does this matter you may ask?

With the shortage of new blood threatening the prosperity of the sector it’s accepted that Engineering per se must raise its profile if more of the young, and girls in particular, are to be encouraged into the professions.

But with an endemic trait where even the most respected press can succumb to glamour and celebrity over serious content getting that exposure requires new thinking.

Our engineering companies must acknowledge the image challenge they face and beas innovative with their PR as they are with their technology. To present technical successes in ways that grab the attention of journalists who arethe critical link in giving engineering a big voice.

Engineering must trump the trite.