I graduated from the UWE with a Master’s degree in Aerospace Systems Engineering and I am now a Flight Systems Engineer at BAE Systems.
The path I chose
I always enjoyed creative classes at school but most of all Physics and Maths. My parents actually wanted me to become a doctor. I was adamant that wasn’t for me but they would only settle on Pharmacy as a compromise. When I made my university applications, I applied for both Pharmacy and Aerospace Engineering. My parents didn’t understand engineering, it wasn’t what they were used to. When I got accepted for both, after a lot of resistance and stubbornness on my part, I told them that I was choosing engineering and I never looked back.
I was one of only two women on my course which came as a shock. I struggled with confidence and therefore never tried to network or volunteer. I made friends but never wanted to leave that comfort zone. Looking back, I wish that I had been braver, I know that I missed out on opportunities because I was afraid to put myself out there.
Following university, I struggled initially to find a job due to my lack of real life experience in engineering. My first engineering job was designing interior advanced passenger upholstery systems for premium class seating, but I wanted to move closer to my family, so I applied to BAE Systems for a job as a Flight Systems Engineer and got the job!
Six years on, I never get bored and have had the opportunity to work on many different projects from the hydraulics system of a jet to the pilot’s helmet and clothing, continuously developing my skills. A Flight Systems Engineer is a collaborative, multidisciplinary role and I enjoy being involved in all of the various aspects of the development of aircraft equipment.
The scary things suddenly seemed less scary
My big turning point was returning to work following maternity leave. I became more comfortable in my own skin and took on a new project working on next generation combat aircraft technology. This is my most exciting project yet and it’s great to be a part of our future of combat aircraft system.
Anything is possible
I also became a STEM Ambassador following my return to work and began mentoring for The Girls Network, which is a fantastic charity. I felt out of my comfort zone but each activity I accomplished only proved to myself that I was capable. The difference now is that I am actively pushing myself and putting my name forward, which my younger self would never have been brave enough to do. As a result, I have been selected for the Northern Power Women Future List 2020, won the WeAreTheCity Rising Star in Defence 2020 and more recently achieved my Professional Registration becoming a Chartered Engineer.
My parents did tell me a few years ago that I made the best decision. I already knew this but it was heartening to get their validation. I’m glad that I had the courage to forge my own path and I hope to show young girls that they too can pursue a career in engineering.
My top tops to any girls at school thinking about their future career would be…
1. To get a mentor! A mentor is invaluable for support and guidance in achieving your goals, even if your goal is to decide on what career path to follow.
2.Although it may be intimidating, network to connect with those who have similar interests as you.
3. Finally, seize opportunities and never be afraid to ask questions!