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Celebrating INWED22

International Women in Engineering Day, brought to you by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) is celebrating its 9th year and figures as of June 2021 show that 16.5% of engineers are women.

INWED gives women engineers around the world a profile when they are still hugely under-represented in their professions.

We hear from Monika and Lynn about their role at Optimus.

Monika Zabala

What is your current job role and what does it involve? I am Project Engineer and Proposals Coordinator, which typically involve the review/analysis of project documentation for alignment with the Client’s expectations and goals, organising project framework documentation for appropriate execution and performing constant follow-up on technical disciplines work so we can ensure the project is as it should be in terms of time, budget and quality. I recently started at Optimus and the project I have been assigned to has not officially started, so from a project execution point of view I have been doing some pre-project work and getting involved with our team, understanding all technical concerns and challenges so we can address them with the Client on a timely manner. As for the proposals coordinator role, it involves the review of all opportunities/tenders received and preparing relevant documents, to provide Clients with technical and commercial proposals that satisfy their requirements and allow us to win the work.

What does your typical day look like? My day could be a very dynamic or quiet one, depending on the moment. Since I started, I have been working on pre-project documentation which requires usual consultation with my supervisor (as I have little time in the company) so I’d say these are ‘quiet days’, which usually involve planned short calls or meetings at the office – the project has not started officially, when the project starts it should be a different story. When I have to prepare proposals it could be more dynamic, so my day may involve interaction with more members of the team (and more frequent) to get the tender / proposals documents ready for submission and comply with deadlines set.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy being part of a multi-discipline team. I have the opportunity not only to support the business from my corner or my area of expertise but also to learn from everybody along the way.

What was your proudest achievement as an engineer? I have always thought that a professional career is filled with small achievements, and those for which I’m proud are the ones that have helped me to grow, professionally and personally. I wouldn’t know how to pick, but I’d say that every time I help to get the job done, or I receive an appreciation email from any client or co-workers as recognition of my work or contribution, those are very proud moments – these moments are even more special when are related to new topics for me, that typically involve lots more study from my side to reach the level of knowledge required.

What made you decide to pursue a career in this industry? I was raised among oil and gas professionals (dad and grandfather), so I’d say everything started as a hereditary issue. I was born in a country where the O&G industry was the main source of income, and all my young life I lived in a staff camp for oil workers. This, combined with my interest in Chemistry / Physics/ Maths made me decide to go for an engineering career. I always wanted to know exactly ‘what happens, processes, chemicals reactions’ involved so it was easy to see Chemical Engineering as the right choice for me, as I was also interested in the development of new technologies, optimising energy usage, etc.

Do you have any advice for young women interested in a similar career path? I think we (women) have proved we can achieve anything we want, regardless of any specific circumstances that make us doubt ourselves at any point in life. As I see it, pursuing a career in engineering requires keeping the focus on the goals, understanding there is always room for improvement / new solutions and, there is always something new to learn that will help you in the future. For us, the challenge is basically how to achieve what we want as a professional, without leaving aside our personal goals. So, my advice will be not to lose focus, and most importantly try to keep a good balance with personal life in the process.

Monika Zabala
Lynn Nderitu
Lynn Nderitu

What is your current job role and what does it involve? I am currently a graduate Civil/Structural engineer. The role involves designing structures that can resist stresses and pressures imposed through human use and environmental conditions. All very fun and interesting!

What does your typical day look like? Usually, I come into the office by 9 am and log on/get my set-up ready. After that, I check my emails and reply to any that I do have. I then check my calendar to see if I have any meetings. Afterwards, I plan my schedule for the day making a checklist of what should be ideally achieved. This allows me to structure my day a bit better and allows me to organize my workload. From there I get on with my tasks and sometimes during the day I schedule meetings if I need some extra assistance. Of course, I take my lunch at the usual times and take short breaks in between if needed.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy being part of a team that gets to solve interesting engineering problems. I enjoy working on solutions and learning from more experienced engineers.

What was your proudest achievement as an engineer? As a graduate engineer, I’m just at the beginning of my career journey but so far, I think my greatest achievement is being able to interpret structural drawings and model them on various software. It’s very exciting to see structural drawings materialise in structural analysis software.

What made you decide to pursue a career in this industry? I decided to pursue a career in this industry as back in my schooling days I enjoyed subjects that involved me solving problems and finding solutions. From there I researched and kind of figured that Engineering would be the ideal career path for me.

Do you have any advice for young women interested in a similar career path? I would say don’t be too intimidated to get into this kind of industry as it’s very interesting and rewarding. Don’t limit yourself and always have a ‘yes I can do mindset 😊