How important/beneficial do you think it is for people to have a mentor?
I think it depends on the person. I like the idea of a mentor as it’s someone who can impart their past successes and failures to guide you in your role in the first few weeks. Equally, without a mentor, you can learn to adapt and grow quickly (in some ways) as you have to be more independent and to trust yourself to know what you’re doing and be able to justify your work without relying on someone else. I’m quite ambivalent on this topic. I think there are pros and cons to having a mentor and as long as the pros outweigh the cons for the individual and the company, that’s what matters.
What advice would you give to someone who may be put off studying a tech or engineering subject at university due to the lack of senior female role models in the industry?
I’d tell them to pave their own way, as so many women have done before. One woman who has truly inspired me is Dame Anita Roddick; she was a businesswoman, not an engineer. She found a unique way to do what she loved, regardless of what people around her said or how the industry was shaped. I’d say become the role model you want to see inspiring younger women into the industry.
If that advice didn’t work, I’d probably just argue/advise that if this is a topic and industry that you’re really passionate about, people will take notice. You don’t need a role model to tell you who and how to be.
Currently just 5% of leadership positions in tech are held by women, what career aspirations do you have?
I much prefer being in a lab and working with my hands. I’m unaware of many leadership roles which will allow me to continue to do the work I love and am passionate about, without straddling me with meetings and paperwork. That being said, I hope to inspire others (not just women), without entering a leadership role. My mind could be changed in the future though.
My career aspirations, aren’t to go as high as I can in a business but rather to effect positive change as much as I possibly can. I want to help people, through my work, and make a difference to the environment. I think those are more important than money and prestige.