Shirley Underwood

Our interviewee for this instalment of People in NDE is Shirley Underwood, UK General Manager for Proceq…

Briefly describe your current role
I am Proceq UK’s General Manager, providing commercial and technical solutions in NDT for the metal, concrete and paper industries. Proceq is a Swiss company with eight offices around the world to support its customers globally.

What does your job involve day to day?
Our focus is to deliver and support our customers and key partners from a commercial, technical and training point of view. This means demonstrating and testing instruments on site, troubleshooting problems, running seminars and training, helping with reports, taking part in exhibitions and roadshows and, dare I say it, a lot of spreadsheets.

What education/training route did you follow? What other roles/jobs have you had in the past?
Half of my family are engineers, including my brother and father. I have always been good at languages so studied business economics with finance at the University of the West of Scotland. Thereafter, I trained to be a management accountant but quickly got bored and after moving ahead with a few import/export sales jobs, I embraced technical sales. I guess engineering was always in my blueprint so here I am, developing, providing technical assistance and selling alongside our NDT distributors in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Sweden, as I have done for 13 years (at two companies).

Why did you choose NDT?
Like many others in NDT, NDT chose me. In truth, I like it. I have met so many interesting people on my travels and our products can be very diverse. For example, one of our instruments, originally invented for portable hardness testing of metals, is now used in the North Pole for monitoring the condition of rock and in Spain for monitoring rubber tyres. It will shortly be used in China for testing of mud bricks, which will be a first. Every day is different – we are leading the way in innovation and I’m proud of it.

What would you consider to be your biggest NDE career achievements and challenges to date?
As I mentioned above, I did not go to university to get an engineering degree. In 2011, when Proceq decided to open its UK office and make me General Manager some thought we would not succeed, but we have had great success and are on track to hit our best year yet. I would like to say it was easy but NDT does not work that way. You really have to prove yourself and boy have I learnt a lot since then. We made a plan, followed it through, focused on our customers and our expertise and knocked on a lot of doors, sometimes learning the hard way but above all hiring the right people and working as a team.

What changes, if any, do you foresee for NDE in the future?
I expect the Internet of Things (IoT) to become more popular in years to come, just like touchscreen products have.
How would you describe NDE/NDT to someone who knows little or nothing about it?
This is easy; I describe NDT as a lot like seeing a 12-week-old baby scan using ultrasound. You get a nice image of what is happening inside from holding an intelligent instrument on the outside. With engineering it is the same. In this way we can check for integrity and defects in concrete and metals non-intrusively. Simple.

What is your favourite NDE technique and why?
My favourite technique is ultrasound. In terms of Proceq products, my favourite is the Pundit 250 Array for concrete. With just one push of the transducer against the surface you get a live image of what is happening inside and with some great software you can tie all the scans together to give one great panoramic image, fast.

What is your involvement with BINDT, if any?
Proceq has been a BINDT member since 2010 and values BINDT as a promoter in the advancement of science and the practice of all NDT disciplines. The company has participated in many events – this year it is the Materials Testing exhibition happening this month.

Please get in touch if you have any recommendations for future interviewees or would like to be interviewed yourself. Contact the editor at or email Maria Felice direct at

Comments by members

This forum post has no comments, be the first to leave a comment.

Submit your comment

You need to log in to submit a Comment. Please click here to log in or register.

<< Back