To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we decided to catch up with three of our team members.
June 23rd is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). The day is an international awareness campaign, dedicated to celebrating the work and achievements of women engineers. It’s also a call for more women to shape the world we live in. To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we decided to catch up with three of the women at the forefront of our business.
Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like at learnd?
Stacy Woodman – I’m responsible for strategic growth at learnd. I get the privilege of working across multiple departments, helping our customers achieve their goals and helping learnd deliver better buildings guaranteed. The development of next-gen solutions is key to achieving this and I am extremely fortunate to work with some of the best engineering heroes in the industry, developing the right solutions that deliver the best possible outcomes for our customers and partners.
Shauna Carysforth – I work with our customers to help them realise and understand the issues that they have with their buildings and the technology within them. Often, businesses have such a wide scope of issues, it’s hard to know where to start. Using a process of interviews, workshops and research, I help customers understand their problems. Then, I help our Labs Development Team build a set of requirements to address their issues using our building technology.
Jodie Barker – I’m responsible for all of the installation work we do throughout BT’s 6,500 telephone exchanges and data centres. No two days are ever the same. We can do a large number of installations as part of making sure all parties – the panel shop, contractors, internal engineers and the client – are updated is a large part of my day. I spend a lot of time on my mobile, on video team calls and more recently (due to restrictions being lifted) going to meetings.
What is the best part of your job at learnd?
Stacy Woodman – I love that my role blends product development with commercial and industry expertise – it’s truly diverse in its focus. Creating the best propositions for our customers means learning from our clients, our sales, our project and service teams, and the technology innovation coming from learnd labs. We’re connecting our solutions to our customers’ needs, and working hand-in-hand, cross-function to deliver these outcomes – teamwork at its best!
Shauna Carysforth – Being able to affect real change in the direction we go in for the future. The work I do will inform either a bespoke project for a customer and how they use their building, or define learnd’s future products and services and help push us in the right direction to best support our customers going forward.
Jodie Barker – I really enjoy the variety each day brings and I work with some great people – internal employees, contractors and clients. I learn something new every day.
What first drew you to working at a tech startup?
Stacy Woodman – Having come into the company from a high tech background, it really appealed to me to join a business that’s focused on innovation and growth but is built on solid principles and a proven business model. Driving a visible impact on both people and strategy is a rare combination and one that is very present at learnd.
Shauna Carysforth -The opportunity to do something different and be part of a company trying to push towards what could be possible in the future of buildings and how we use them. Adjusting the boundaries of what people have said is technically possible or ‘done’ and re-writing what that looks like to allow for greater connected possibilities.
Jodie Barker – I started working for Adam nearly 11 years ago. Since we have been part of learnd, it has been exciting to see the new direction the company is going in.
Did you always know that working for an engineering and technology business was what you wanted to do?
Stacy Woodman – Having studied history at university I decided it wasn’t an industry to build my career in, largely because I had no idea what opportunities there were in the sector and where it might take me. I always knew I had an appetite for problem-solving, so applying that in the tech sector was an unexpected bonus. I’ve always held roles that, even when commercial in nature, partnered heavily with engineering disciplines. And I have a healthy respect for the skills required to not only take solutions to market but build those solutions that actually deliver on the promise.
Shauna Carysforth – No, not at all. I did a degree in design thinking and didn’t have a clue where it would lead me. I’ve worked my way through project managing at a brand agency to being an innovation strategist at a security company, without knowing that all my skills would eventually fit perfectly at learnd.
Jodie Barker – I spent 10 years in the Army. Although most of the time I worked on outdated equipment, I was involved in trials and demonstrations for new hardware and software the Army ended up purchasing. That’s when I started to have an interest in technology and engineering.
Do you notice a lack of women in engineering? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
Stacy Woodman – In my earlier career absolutely. 10 years ago it was rare for there to be a female engineer in the team, and if there was she was in the minority. Those women I did have the opportunity to work with bought a fresh perspective and skills to complement those of their male counterparts. And seeing that gender mix improve is encouraging. High-tech companies have invested a lot in this area, though I think there’s more to do in industries lagging behind. And it’s necessary to prove it’s more than just a numbers exercise. Appealing to diverse backgrounds on multiple levels (not just gender) is so critical to the future success of our industry.
Shauna Carysforth – Yes, there is definitely a noticeable lack of women within the industry. It is improving but it’s still far from equal! If I’m honest, it wasn’t an industry that I went out in search of opportunities in – they happened to come to me. So I was made aware my skills were needed. If other women aren’t given the same nudge or shown the path they could take more clearly and how it benefits them, I can see how they can either not consider it or get left behind.
Jodie Barker – I think there are very few women in engineering, but I don’t feel this is due to lack of opportunity being offered to women.
Do you think enough is done to help women get into the industry?
Stacy Woodman – I’ve definitely noticed a big change in the attitude to promoting engineering as an exciting place for women to be. STEM has grown significantly on the industry agenda and it’s been refreshing to see the efforts made to engage children and young adults earlier in their learning to make engineering concepts more relevant and exciting.
Shauna Carysforth – No I don’t. It has been something I have gradually got more involved in but the development plan is not clear or well publicised for anyone outside of, or new to, the industry. I think it goes right back to schools and making the choice of what to study at university – knowing that job roles exist in companies doing really exciting new tech development, and there is a role for you to play there.
Jodie Barker – I am not aware of any boundaries to any vocations to discriminate against women. I don’t know why women don’t choose this as a career option. It may be due to the industry historically being male-orientated. I have not been treated any differently being a female.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in engineering?
Stacy Woodman – Find the personal relevance for you – what are the problems that engineering could help solve that you’re passionate about? You might just inspire yourself! Target those companies that are visibly working to drive inclusion and diversity as part of their core values, so you know that even in more legacy industries, you’re part of the change.
Shauna Carysforth – Have confidence in your ability and that you are there because you deserve to be. Think differently about things and advocate change, you are there to push through boundaries and create new opportunities for the women who come after you.
Jodie Barker – Go for it! Work hard and you will be given plenty of opportunities to grow your career.
How much do you think the industry has changed since you joined?
Stacy Woodman – It’s evolution, not revolution. However, I’ve seen a much more proactive approach over the years, and have noticeably worked with more and more women in engineering roles in my recent career. The industry itself is working hard on multiple levels to improve all forms of diversity. As always, there’s more we can do together to make that stick.
Jodie Barker – I think there are more women in the industry than 10 or 15 years ago.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Stacy Woodman – Be bold – you might be the only woman in the room but you’re as equal as the next person, so own it. Speak up and challenge the status quo, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Shauna Carysforth – Focus on resilience, you may need it at times. But don’t underestimate the impact you will have in this field. Technology will change, move with the times, things that seem important now or a key to client or business success will adapt and the more you can stay on top of that the better.
Jodie Barker – Take all opportunities given to you and work hard.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
Stacy Woodman – Our world grows ever more different by the day. Bringing in new perspective and expertise in the form of female engineering talent only serves to add depth and contrast to an already talented workforce. It also helps to challenge the status quo and help to move us forward at an accelerated pace. I for one think it’s never been a better time for women to make their mark here.
Shauna Carysforth – I think it’s always important to have diverse representation. It makes collaboration more thought-provoking, development more widely considered and broadens our view on the world, leading to more thoughtful and successful outcomes.
Jodie Barker – I don’t feel that the world would be different at all. Both men and women bring different values and skills to the industry.