Amelia Gould is Head of Engineering at BAE Systems, Combat systems and a former Officer in the Royal Navy. Today, she talks to Genderbuzz® about her life as an Engineer and how she hopes to inspire the next generation of Female Engineers with her achievements.
Amelia, describe a typical day for you as Head of Engineering at BAE Systems
My team and I are responsible for looking after the 800 engineers we have in the business, making sure that they are suitability qualified and capable, managing their careers, defining engineering policy and processes and providing governance for all project engineering activities.
Typically, I spend most of my days talking to people and doing reviews. We continually look for ways to improve the way we do engineering, so I spend most of time gathering ideas from others and trying to work out how to implement them. We do a lot of problem solving in teams, but my favourite days are filled with Design Reviews when I get to hear about all the great products we are developing and make sure that they will meet customers’ needs.
Have you always wanted to be an Engineer and what was it that sparked your interest in Engineering?
I actually wanted to be an astronaut, but the Space industry was shrinking when I left school, and my dad said I needed to find a “real job”! My Physics teacher suggested engineering and I did a 3 day “introduction to engineering for girls” course at Brunel University. We spent the time building towers out of spaghetti and tinkering with things. I loved it and was totally hooked!
I have never regretted that decision.
How were you encouraged at school to study Maths and Sciences to prepare for your career in Engineering?
I didn’t really need encouragement. I always loved Maths and Sciences and loved finding out what made the world the way it is. I have always been curious and luckily had some great teachers who allowed me to explore these subjects. My Physic’s teacher was amazing, and even spent some of his free time teaching me astronomy!
You were an Officer in the Royal Navy and served in Iraq, what was the most important quality you developed during that time?
Resilience. I learnt to keep pushing myself so that I could pass all the training I was put through. I was constantly tested and stretched as a young officer, learning a lot about myself, my abilities and limits. This still stands me in good stead and I think that knowing when to push yourself and when to ask for help from someone else is key to not getting stressed by a situation.
You have been spearheading an initiative to make Portsmouth Dockyards a better working environment for women. How you have done that and how have things changed for women in this typically male environment as a result?
I have been focusing on the simple things – making the working environment more welcoming and inclusive. I facilitated a STEM Networking Session for all our women in STEM roles, which focused on understanding their issues and how things could be made better. I then made sure we followed up the ideas, steadily changing the culture.
You launched a Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) ‘People like me’ pilot scheme for BAE systems in Portsmouth, what IMPACT is that having?
The People Like Me Campaign material is due to be launched in 2017. I am really looking forward to taking it to some local schools and running some more People Like Me workshops. However the process has already enabled us to re-explore the language we use when engaging with school children and making our job adverts attractive to both male and female applicants.
You recently won an Award for Gender Diversity at the Inaugural ‘Women in Defence Awards’, describe how that felt and what it means to you
It felt amazing! I was so humbled to be nominated and stunned to actually win. It felt strange to win an award for something I was just doing because it was important to me.
What are your career plans in 2017 and what do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?
I have just started my current role, so being as effective as possible in this role is my main aim. This will of course include ensuring that the benefits that diversity brings to teams and projects is appreciated and used throughout our engineering teams. In 2017, I also hope to continue with the work I have been doing to improve diversity in the business and engage with more young girls in local schools to encourage them into engineering, just as I was encouraged.
Do you have any advice for women Engineering graduates who want to pursue a career in Engineering?
Yes! My advice would be to try to do an internship or work experience placement to figure out where you would like to take your career as a first step. Keep an open mind, there are far more options out there than you could believe and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself – you are more able than you think.
My final piece of advice would is – Stick with it, it’s an amazing, varied and rewarding career.
Do you think you might be interested in a career in Engineering? Then go to the WISE website today and find out how you can enjoy a career as satisfying and interesting as Amelia’s and be a Female engineering leader of the future!