Day in the Life – Karmen Nagy-Stephenson

Vital Stats

  • Job title: Network Reliability Engineer
  • Function: Technology
  • Tenure : 11 years

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am originally from Auckland, New Zealand where I grew up in a very large, very diverse extended family. I am mixed race, two of my grandparents were Maori, one was a Cook Islander and the other was Pakeha (NZ European).

I studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Auckland University and worked in fixed line telecoms for a few years. I landed in London in 2002 with a 2 year working holiday visa. I stayed in London for a few months before heading north and falling in love with Tony, a half Hungarian Yorkshireman (Nagy, pronounced Nodge, is Hungarian) and have been living here ever since. I have no kids of my own (by choice) but I have 5 awesome step children – mostly in their mid to late 20s and a 17 year old who is whangai (Maori word meaning informal adoption/fostering).

I found Crossfit about 9 years ago after stumbling across an article on Facebook and through that, I started Olympic lifting a year later. Both are awesome, the Olympic lifting and Crossfit communities are brilliant – Crossfit particularly has all ages, all abilities and is constantly varied, empowering and so much fun!  I would highly recommend it to everyone, it’s completely scalable and adaptable.  If you ever want to talk to me about either of them, please do.

In a nutshell, describe your role and how you support our business objectives?

Our Network Reliability Engineering team came to be in March 2020. There was a desire to retain operational and technical expertise in the business following the outsourcing of the operations function to partners. Using a team of subject matter experts across multiple technology domains we assure the availability and resiliency of Three’s core network working closely with our partners. We work as a team but have an individual technical focus aligned to different aspects of Three’s core network. We get involved, where appropriate, with projects and delivery, incidents, performance investigations, change, preventative maintenance, operational risks to the network and working with our internal teams and technology partners supporting, and sometimes challenging ways of working.  We also have the SDM (subscriber database management) team where the design and operation is still looked after by Three.

Since December 2020 I have been on the committee for the Women at Three group.  I have loved working with the people in this group, it’s such a supportive space and I never realised how few women I had in my work life, and how much I needed them until I joined this group. We recently launched the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) channel this month and we’re hoping to create a supportive space for women in STEM roles, which tend to be male dominated areas.

What has been your career highlight?

My favourite role was working in back office operations in the Mobile Packet Core team here at Three. We configured, operated and maintained our Mobile Packet Core network that enables our customers to use data services on their phones, like browsing the internet, reading emails, Whatsapp, Youtube, etc.

It was very much a doing and thinking role. It had a constant change of pace, you were always learning and problem solving and you have to be able to work well under pressure when high priority incidents occur – and I love all those things. I am eternally grateful to colleagues who encouraged me to work in that team and then encouraged me to apply, hired me and gave me the guidance and support I needed to get to grips with the role.

I didn’t realise there were no women engineers in that wider area prior to 2015. We definitely need more allies who can help us overcome barriers in STEM roles.

How have you supported your personal wellbeing during the past couple of years?

I have been dealing with complex PTSD and have found Crossfit and Olympic lifting have been hugely helpful. It’s also helped that the Crossfit community are very welcoming and friendly and the coaching is excellent. I have bought some kit so I can train at home on days where I’ve struggled to leave the house (or couldn’t leave because of lockdown).

I love going for walks and live in the countryside, which matches well. My CBT therapist recommended I try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) therapy instead, which I started last year through our company health insurance, this has been excellent and transformative.  Through EMDR therapy I am a big fan of bilateral stimulation to relax and use the Sleep Restore app.

My husband, family and close friends have been a huge support to me. I think the connectedness of spending quality time with loved ones, sharing stories, righting the worlds wrongs and having a laugh is one of my all-time favourite things to do and is so good for wellbeing.

What made you want to become an Engineer?

My high school physics teacher put all the girls in our sixth form class on a Women in Engineering day at Auckland university. I remember thinking it sounded unbelievably boring, it conjured up images of looking under car bonnets and being on construction sites, and I was convinced I wouldn’t be interested at all.  However, when we got there and listened to all these different women from different departments present an overview of their projects, I was blown away.  All of these projects were really, really interesting and all had real life applications. Seeing all these women engineers made me realise I could, and I did want to be part of it.

Testament to how effective that day was, more girls in my year at high school studied engineering at university than boys did, and all of us girls decided on that day as well.

I wish every single high school student could go to an engineering day at a university, I’m sure it would have the great impact on the current shortage of engineers in the UK.

Give us a fun fact

Fun fact 1: My mum is adopted and I tracked down her birth family on her father’s side a few years ago. I got to go to Sydney for a short trip in April and I met some of them for the first time.

Fun fact 2: I live in Calderdale otherwise known as Happy Valley. The teacher’s house featured in the show is on the opposite side of the paddock from us (you see our house on the show a few times), and the studio lights were so bright it looked like the house was possessed for a week.  One night they even filmed a night scene on the street with lights so bright the whole valley lit up like daytime.


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