Challenging the status quo to grow as a female engineer at Schneider Electric Indonesia
Hello everyone! My name is Shanti. I have been working as an Automation Engineer at Schneider Electric Indonesia for almost two years. I would like to share my personal journey working as a female engineer in an inclusive organization such as Schneider Electric.
What you learn at school is different from what you learn in real life
After majoring in natural sciences in high school, I decided to pursue my undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering including Automation. What I learned at school is quite different from what I have been experiencing in the real world.
At university, you are mainly taught the basics. When you are working for a company, every organization has different products, so you must learn a lot more to fully understand their unique offers.
When I entered the workforce, I didn’t start immediately as an engineer. I started my career working in the Finance function, handling invoices, and administrative tasks, which broadened my perspective of the corporate world.
It was only after my job contract ended that I had the opportunity to move to an engineer related role and do something linked to my training background. Since I left that job, I have spent close to 7 years working in engineering working for many large organizations and it has been a rewarding life experience so far.
Working on-site is an empowering experience
As an Automation Engineer in Indonesia, I work both on-site and in the office. I commute to the office daily, yet I often go to visit customer sites. Working on-site is a very empowering experience. When you’re working on-site, it can be more challenging because the location could be in the middle of nowhere and require proper travel planning.
One time, I was on duty in Palu, in Central Sulawesi. The customer site was in a forest, so I was picked up by a local driver to send me back to the hotel. It turned out the driver forgot the way back and we got lost for one hour in the forest. Thankfully, we were able to get back to the hotel safely.
I particularly enjoy working on-site because I have more freedom and flexibility in the way I manage my work if the customer is satisfied with the result. It has also provided me with meaningful visiting opportunities across our beautiful country.
Challenging perceptions as a female engineer
In Indonesia, engineering remains a male-dominated field and outside of big cities, seeing a female engineer is not very common. Yet diversity is improving across the country.
In the past, people at the site would often ask “where’s the engineer?” and when they would see me get a little bit surprised or underestimate my abilities. It did not get in my way and helped me be better in my field.
One time I was allocated to a project that was not progressing well in the city of Surabaya. There was one problem that could not be solved, so the manager asked to change the engineer in charge, which happened to be me – a young female engineer. I stepped up calmly and told him that I would like to fix it by the next day. I ended up solving the issue at the end of the day and after that, we became good friends.
I believe that efforts always pay off. When I am empowered to do my best, results will speak for themselves and that’s enough for me.
Finding a passion for Engineering to be your best
I keep doing my job because I love it. I enjoy learning and trying new things related to Electrical Engineering. My parents are very proud of me and my sister because we are both female engineers. This is the point that they often share with our neighbors and seeing my parents being proud of me is a source of personal pride.
To become a good engineer, you need to pay attention to every detail and be very organized. Hearing people say that it is rare for a female to work as an engineer has become an additional source of motivation to challenge the status quo and do my best every day.
Being part of an inclusive company like Schneider Electric has certainly given me the support and confidence to follow my passions and be the best. For fellow women out there, who are interested to be an engineer but still unsure, don’t be afraid to do something you like just because you’re a woman. When you get to do it, it’s not as scary as one might think. At the end of the day, if you find meaning in what you do and do your best in everything you do, you’ll be rewarded.
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About the Author
Shanti is an Automation Engineer in Schneider Electric Indonesia. Before joining the company, she was a software engineer for GE and Alstom. She has close to 10 years of working experience and graduated from the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology in Surabaya with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
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