23 Jun 2022

INWED 2022 #ImagineTheFuture

Today, we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day!

This year’s theme is ‘Inventors & Innovators’ #ImagineTheFuture.

To mark the day we asked women across ADP to share their insights on what this topic means to them, their thoughts on how we can bring more women into engineering and why they chose engineering as their career path.

Eleni Chrysafis / Senior Acoustic Engineer / Sydney

Why Engineering?

From very early on, I realized that spaces can be experienced not only visually, but also aurally. I started thinking of spaces like living organisms with voices that can be heard. And after studying and experimenting in different areas and disciplines, such as sound, film and building design, I came across the term “aural architecture” and something clicked inside me. I thought that, if the architect of a space is the one who brings the beauty, aesthetics and symbolism to the eye, I wanted to be able to bring these same elements to the ear.

Why acoustic engineering? Because I love the constant learning and mental stimulation, the problem solving and interaction with architects, engineers and other professionals to complete on time a common goal: the creation of beautiful, functional, meaningful, and of course, sustainable spaces.

What’s your favourite part of your work/workday?

It always feels great to visit a project site after its completion, especially, if I’ve worked on this project from its inception. I also love it when I solve a problem or when I have a lovely social interaction with a work colleague or a client.

Sarah McMahon / Associate/ Mechanical Team Lead / Sydney

Why Engineering?

I loved building and fixing things as a child (I still do!) so when I started to excel at maths and physics at school, engineering seemed like the obvious career.

What’s your favourite part of your job, and why?

I’ve always loved seeing our designs being built, but more recently I’m really enjoying looking at the sustainability piece around electrification and net zero carbon and how we can be designing our services so that buildings are future-proofed.

What can the industry do better to encourage engineering as a career pathway for women?

Promoting engineering as a diverse industry to the younger generation would help, because ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. We need more diversity in the workforce and in leadership positions so that everyone has role models to aspire to.

Bhagyashri Gore / Mechanical Engineer / Brisbane

Why Engineering?

When I was finishing schooling, engineering, specifically mechanical engineering was more competitive and was considered a male dominant field, hence why more girls weren’t attracted to this field. There were only 5 girls in my class of 91 students. When I was considering my bachelor’s, I wanted to lead by example and encourage the society where I live that women can be successful in the engineering field. I am very proud that I became the first Mechanical Engineer girl in my hometown.

What’s your favourite part of the workday and why?

A great thing about my work is that it inspires me to explore new ways of thinking and take on new challenges. I love the opportunities presented daily to work with many great people with great talent and enthusiasm.

What can the industry do better to encourage engineering as a career pathway for women? 

I think engineering should be introduced as a subject in early schooling and describe the pathway and how engineers work differently in different ways. Rewards and recognition programs to encourage and support women in the engineering field would also be something to consider.   

Inventors and innovators are this year’s theme.  Is there anything you have created, or innovated that you are very proud of, or other women innovators that have inspired you?

Although I haven’t invented anything as yet, during my final year in university I delivered a project on an electricity-generating staircase which I am very proud of. The objective was to create power generation through footsteps as a source of renewable energy that could be obtained while walking on footpaths, stairs, platforms and so forth. These systems could be installed elsewhere, especially in the densely populated areas. 

Penny Benjamin / Sustainability Consultant & Office Manager / Brisbane

Why Engineering?

At school I liked Chemistry and Maths… and my careers counsellor suggested Chemical Engineering might be a good fit so I went for it! Since then, the thing I love most about engineering is its ability to solve real world problems on a wide range of topics.

What’s your favourite part of the workday and why?

Big-picture thinking and conceptualizing the amazing solutions to the problems we are trying to solve! Also, creating connections with my colleagues at ADP and with others in our industry.

What can the industry do better to encourage engineering as a career pathway for women? 

There needs to be more real-world and industry connections with female high school students. Showing, talking about and demonstrating the type of work we do and problems we solve. When I went to school there was nothing like this and I had no idea what an ‘engineer’ did in the workplace. The fact I decided to do engineering at uni had nothing to do with what I thought a career in engineering would be like! You can’t be what you can’t see.

Inventors and innovators are this year’s theme.  Is there anything you have created, or innovated that you are very proud of, or other women innovators that have inspired you?

When I was at Shell I ran a project to bring recycled water into the refinery to replace the domestic water supply to the industrial water tanks. There were several complexities that needed to be worked through, the main one being the risk of feeding extremely pure recycled water into our concrete industrial water tanks. It was a fascinating process that I was able to see through to the end and even turn the valve on D-Day!

Vickie Huang / Senior Sustainability Consultant / Melbourne 

Why Engineering?

Why not? Whilst I am not technically an engineer, I do remember selecting engineering as one of my preferred university courses in year 12. However, I decided to pursue an architecture degree instead but discovered I was only a semi-decent architect and found my calling in the field of Environmentally Sustainable Design. For me, this is the perfect mix of design and problem solving, all through the increasingly important lens of Sustainability. I could not have landed in a more appropriate profession if I tried.

What’s your favourite part of the workday and why?

When I get to share what I’ve learnt with my team, whether it’s super practical – like a more efficient way of doing something, a lesson learnt on a project or new technology. But mostly, it’s when I am training a team member and to see their reaction when everything clicks into place. That’s my favourite thing. 

What can the industry do better to encourage engineering as a career pathway for women?

Personally, I was fortunate to attend an all-girls school and never considered engineering as a “non-traditional” pathway for women. In a way, I was not exposed to the discrepancy of women in engineering until I entered the workforce. Engaging with schools to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects, having an industry-wide marketing strategy to give engineering a brand targeted at a female audience, and promoting women in the field would be some strategies to encourage the uptake of engineering as a career.

Khyati Saxena / Sustainability Consultant / Sydney

Why Engineering?

Short answer: My father. Long answer: When I was growing up, my dad was working as a civil engineer in the building sector and throughout my childhood, I always said that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. True to my word, I become an architect, but I soon realized that I cared more about how a building worked, rather than how a building looked. Given my love for sustainability and the environment, it seemed like a natural step to join the engineering world but focus on their sustainable outcome.

What’s your favourite part of the workday, and why?

The best part of my day is when I get to geek out talking about buildings and sustainability. I enjoy the fun (and sometimes frustrating) conversations around building physics when the team is trying to solve a problem.

Is there anyone that’s inspired you or really supported you within your career?

My older sister always encouraged me to follow my passion yet made sure I kept my feet firmly on the ground. Being an engineer herself, she taught me how to embrace being a woman in engineering. Looking at her go through her career, I’ve learned how to not lose sight of what you are passionate about when things don’t go according to plan. She always knows what I need to keep moving, whether it’s a little push or just good life advice. When I couldn’t read the big words, she read stories to me for hours. When I wanted to try photography, she bought me my first camera. When I wanted to leave architecture, she supported me in moving away from home and starting a new career. She’s the biggest reason that I am here doing what I am passionate about.