In order to celebrate International Women In Engineering Day, earlier this year, I reached out to a number of female engineers across the UK & Ireland, asking them to share their stories, and the highly rewarding career path they had chosen.
Hear the thoughts of Palak Lad, Systems Engineer at Schneider Electric, about what it’s like to be a female in the world of engineering, what it’s like to work at Schneider Electric and how Schneider has contributed to her journey.
Siobhan Kelly-Bush: Palak, please first tell us when and why did you decide to become an engineer?
Palak Lad: Growing up, I never imagined myself being an engineer, really. One really distinct thing I remember from my childhood is when I used to spend time with my dad, solving hypothetical everyday problems, where he would create a little scenario and ask me to find a solution. Little did I know that these small things helped develop my passion for problem solving! So, when the time came to choose, engineering was the definite choice for me to find a rewarding and fulfilling career. It is something that makes me feel empowered to create positive change whilst fulfilling my passion.
“Engineering was the definite choice for me to find a rewarding and fulfilling career. It is something that makes me feel empowered to create positive change whilst fulfilling my passion.”
SKB: Why Schneider Electric?
PL: Schneider Electric is the kind of place I’m proud to work at. The positive impact we get to have everywhere, especially in the more vulnerable communities of the world, through technology, is my main motivator and makes me feel empowered. In addition, the diversification of roles and technologies within the company means that there are endless opportunities to find new ways to help change the world positively.
“The diversification of roles and technologies within Schneider Electric means that there are endless opportunities to find new ways to help change the world positively.”
SKB: How has Schneider Electric supported your career?
PL: I started with Schneider Electric as an entry-level engineer, fresh out of University. In the last year and half, I’ve not only been extensively trained but also had the opportunity to explore different engineering technologies used within my hub. I’ve also had the opportunity to set up entire systems as a part of training and the hands-on nature of these activities have proven to be excellent learning experiences. This has definitely made me a more confident and well-rounded engineer and the exposure to different teams has helped me develop my interpersonal skills as well.
SKB: What has been your career path up to today?
PL: This role within Schneider Electric is my first professional role. In the last year and half with Schneider Electric, I have had the opportunity to explore the different technologies we use within our Hub in the UK which has been a very exciting learning and development experience. Today, I am a System Engineer with the UK Projects Delivery team. I work with the ClearSCADA, Foxboro DCS and Triconex technologies within my role.
SKB: How has the flexibility across Schneider enabled you to explore a range of career choices and opportunities across different areas?
PL: I have recently relocated to a new desired city and joined a new team, all of which was made possible due to the flexibility across Schneider Electric. In the future, I hope to experience different roles within the hub by shadowing professionals across the teams, something only possible due to the initiatives taken to be flexible, within the teams at Schneider Electric.
SKB: What has been your most rewarding experience as an engineer?
PL: As a part of my training, I had the opportunity to set up systems from scratch. For one system, I got to visit a waste water treatment facility and learn about it before setting up a telemetry and SCADA system to control a similar process. Another internal system set-up involved controlling a customer’s process using our DCS technology. Both of these experiences were extremely rewarding as they allowed me to create functional control solutions to real-world processes and apply this knowledge to projects.
SKB: What has been your most challenging experience as an engineer?
PL: The biggest challenge has certainly been transitioning my theoretical university knowledge and finding new ways to apply it to project work. It has been interesting to find innovative ways to solve problems by thinking outside the box whilst also adopting tried and tested methods to accomplish goals within projects.
SKB: What advice do you have for females interested in becoming an engineer?
PL: The best advice to any young women interested in any aspect of engineering would be to persevere! You will face countless challenges and likely encounter several roadblocks but if you keep persevering through these challenges, you will come out the other side having accomplished great things and making the world a better place in the process.
You will face countless challenges and likely encounter several roadblocks but if you keep persevering through these challenges, you will come out the other side having accomplished great things and making the world a better place in the process.
SKB: Who has been your greatest support, coach, mentor across Schneider Electric and why?
PL: I’ve been extremely lucky to have a line manager (Chris Cliffe) that is highly supportive and extremely approachable, which has certainly helped me settle into my role here. Apart from him, a female Lead engineer from my team (Heba Nasif) has been a great supporter, mentor and friend to me. More recently, I’ve received some coaching and mentorship from Dylan Walker who has supported me in aspects of my training and integration into a new team. Finally, I’d like to mention my mentor Tracey Soper, a Schneider Electric engineer based in the US, who has been remotely mentoring me for a few months now.
Thank you to Palak for sharing her insights on what it’s like to be a female in the world of engineering, and Schneider Electric.
This blog post is part of a series. I invite you to read the other interviews below:
- International Women in Engineering Day: an Interview with Yasemin Borg
- International Women in Engineering Day: an Interview with Antonia Lamballe
- An interview with Eszter Kortvelyesi, Customer Project Engineer at Schneider Electric
- An interview with Mireia Miralles, Graduate Engineer at Schneider Electric
- An interview with Catherine Anderton, Project Manager at Schneider Electric
- An interview with Helen Arch, Field Services Engineer at Schneider Electric