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'You're hired!'

Gerri Blackwood overcame a boardroom mauling to land a job at Hyder's Intelligent Transport Systems.

Gerri Blackwood made quite an impression in the first three episodes of the BBC's The Apprentice. Her direct manner, sharp assessment of her fellow contenders and distinctive laugh made her friends and enemies alike.

Now she's hoping to make an impression in engineering as business development manager at Hyder Consulting.

Blackwood's father was an engineer but it wasn't an instant career choice for his daughter.

'It's in the blood but I didn't wake up to engineering until later, ' she says. After studying for a degree in tourism studies, Blackwood joined Eurostar, selling train charters to corporate clients. 'I opted for sales because I'm quite gregarious.' She was drawn into the engineering sector after selling palled. 'I joined Serco as a bid manager, picking up the tools of the trade. It was my first involvement with engineers.' From Serco she moved to Energis Ireland, again as a bid manager. 'I put together bid documents, and learned all about telecoms.' After Energis Blackwood returned to England and joined Speed Check which had spun-out from Symons, and had just won Home Office approval for its SPECS speed cameras.

'They had a fantastic product, but they were not good at taking it to market. I spent the next three years identifying routes to market and building a sales team.' Seeking a new challenge Blackwood beat 100,000 applicants to win a place on The Apprentice. It's still on air so she cannot divulge much about the programme.

After her TV experience Blackwood joined Hyder and is now at its Intelligent Transport Systems division.

'The number of car users is growing but the space isn't so the Government has to make the network more efficient.

Local authorities require advice on different systems and we're also looking at the private sector that is seeking to benet from technology to streamline processes.'

Q&A Gerri Blackwood

Ideal night in: Just me and a glass of claret.

If my house was burning down I would save: My dog Barney, a Doberman cross.

Favourite food: Asian. I especially love zingy Thai food.

Who will win The Apprentice: I can't say; there are some strong candidates.

Is Tre really like he is on-screen? :

Yes, 110%; they have even maybe calmed him down a bit.

And Katie? : Katie's been done a slight disservice. Everyone makes comments, but they always pick on hers. Katie is very capable.

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