International Women in Engineering Day celebrates and recognises the incredible contributions and achievements female engineers worldwide are making to the profession and encourages more young women and girls to pursue a career in engineering.
Project Engineer, Sushmitha Seshan and HSEQ Manager, Fabiola Ruiz Falcon share who inspired them during their career and why this day is important to them.
INWED is (yet another) opportunity to increase visibility and promote the representation of women in the industry. I believe this day is a friendly reminder for all of us to invest in the power of diverse perspectives and experiences.
As a high school student, I was curious about blackouts and frequent maintenance shutdowns despite having so many transformers and tangled, messy overhead power lines running through Chennai, a metropolitan city in India where I hail from.
My 15-year-old self thought more cables, more current (colloquial translation for electricity). Since I’ve always been passionate about solving problems, for me choosing a discipline like electrical engineering was key to ‘understand’ and solve the grief of long summer days without electricity. Fast forward by a few years, the versatility of this space still baffles me. I credit this inspiration to TNEB’s challenging load-shedding algorithm.
What is some of the best advice you have received as a young engineer and what advice do you have for other young engineers?
In an increasingly competitive/skillful community like ours, it is difficult to achieve a perfect balance in life (kudos to those who do). On these lines, the best advice I’ve received is that “one can only take so much care of others as much as they care for themselves”. I would like to stress the power of authenticity. Being your real self, and doing what you enjoy fosters an inclusive culture where you value other’s contributions and you are valued.
This dynamic nature of technology inspires and empowers me to collaborate globally, continuously learn and adapt, focus on productivity, and drive positive changes. Embracing changes and navigating the ever-evolving professional landscape with optimism is my career pivot.
To me, this day reminds all women of the importance of constantly challenging ourselves and acknowledging and celebrating our big and small achievements. That way, we can set higher standards in the company we work for and the engineering industry.
I have always been very technical-oriented and fascinated with improving how things or processes work, so it was always very clear that I wanted to follow the engineering path. The difficulty was in choosing the specific field; however, I knew my passion was to tangibly improve humankind and the world around us, so Environmental Engineering was my first option.
Due to my focus on problem-solving to improve processes, environment and working conditions, I specialised in integrating occupational health, safety, environment, and the quality of processes into one system. Over the years, I became more interested in specialising in health and safety because of my passion for engaging people and working together towards a safer workplace culture.
Looking back, if I could have given my younger self advice when I was just starting out, I would have told her to stop self-doubting. Working in the HSEQ field will always bring new challenges since we are trying to make changes in how things should be done so acceptance and rejection in our professional careers will happen, but they are opportunities to be more resilient, grow and develop new skills.
Who has inspired you during your career?
As a woman, it definitely helps to have other women in industry who you look up to. In Peru, when I started my professional life, there was only one woman engineer in the operations department. However, she had enough self-confidence to question all the issues she identified during the operations. She became a support system for me and other female graduates and served as an empowering role model.
In Australia, I have been very fortunate to have highly multi-skilled leaders who I consider my mentors and who have challenged my potential to achieve my career growth.