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 Anna Usewicz, Electromechanics/Electrotechnology Design 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: Anna, please tell us what is it like to work at Schneider Electric?
Anna Usewicz: I work as Product Design Engineer in Schneider Electric at Swindon. My day to day activities focus on creation, modification, improving or adaptation of the new or existing product designs across Schneider. In addition, I provide support to industrial, quality, purchasing and marketing service.
SKB: When and why did you decide to become an engineer?
AU: I think when I was 6 years old. My Dad took me to his place of work. It was big manufacturing company with welding stands, painting facilities and long assembly lines. It was a company that produced agricultural machinery like excavators. I still remember the smell of oil grease and riding on a crane.
SKB: Why Schneider Electric?
AU: I saw an opportunity to learn something new. Gain additional and new design experience and knowledge in new engineering subjects; for example, metal sheet design.
SKB: How has Schneider Electric supported your career?
AU: In few ways. In the beginning, I took a part in the 90 days training programme, which helped me with team integration and learned more about the company structure. I had the opportunity to participate in an external courses too, for example a software course in 3D modelling Creo. Currently I’m involved in a Building Great Leaders programme. I have gained huge benefits and support from my colleagues during my day to day activities where, thanks to task/project rotations and cooperation with different teams, I’m able to gain more knowledge, skills and better understanding of the business. I also have very good mentor and I feel very confident even if I was assigned to very challenging tasks.
SKB: What has been your career path up to today?
AU: I applied to university to focus on biomechanical subjects because I was interested in how to design fake hands. During my study, I discovered that I really enjoyed using 3D software for designing and there were unlimited tools that I can use to design anything! I graduated with a Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering before starting my first job in Poland where I gained further knowledge about drawing and assembly preparation. I then had a short break where I focused on my family before coming back to engineering. Coming into engineering in UK was challenging because it was a different country, different working culture and more importantly, the rapid progress within the engineering field itself during my time off was huge. I was able to get a job in automotive industry and I started to work with the R&D team on sensors and accelerator pedal design. I used 2D software AutoCad and I was involved with laser programming and thermal process during the manufacturing of the PCB. I had an opportunity to program and run Pick and Place soldering machines and I was involved with chemical material research used for R&D projects during development of magnetic sensors. I then decided that I wanted to learn something new and that is why I’m here at Schneider. I have been able to learn how big corporations work and how to design metal sheets or mouldings.
“I decided that I wanted to learn something new and that is why I’m here at Schneider.”
SKB: How has the flexibility across Schneider enabled you to explore a range of career choices and opportunities across different areas?
AU: I had opportunity to work few days at Volta laboratory in France. I was involved with short circuit tests of the new and critical products. It was a stunning experience. I had the opportunity to see how other Schneider Electric units work, exchange knowledge, ask questions. It was a good experience after which I was able to ask myself: would I like to work there? What do I like and what didn’t I like?
SKB: What has been your most rewarding experience as an engineer?
AU: Being able to work with smart and inspiring people who have a lot of experience in other disciplines, so I can learn every day. Also, the satisfaction of designing or improving products and see finished, real goods.
“Being able to work with smart and inspiring people, who have a lot of experience in other disciplines, helps me to learn every day.”
SKB: What has been your most challenging experience as an engineer?
AU: Working with new clients is the most challenging experience for me, especially if there is a lack of engineering background in between. Each client is different and has different expectations. Understanding what customers want and explaining what I can provide, because there are engineering limitations which are very challenging at the beginning of the collaborations. Communication must be very simple, straight and comprehensive. It is something that I am constantly developing and I’m trying to provide simple but very detailed reports or presentations with 3D models as explanation for different subject or concerns.
SKB: What advice do you have for females interested in becoming an engineer?
AU: Engineering is great fun and a very wide field which allows you to develop your skills and creativity. It gives you big satisfaction and freedom. I’m pretty sure that each woman can find something for themselves and unleash their ideas. Beauty of engineering is in each of us!!!
SKB: Who has been your greatest support, coach, mentor across Schneider Electric and why?
AU: Since I joined to Schneider, I really appreciate the mentoring approach and great support I had from Paul Ritchie- Haydn. He has many years of experience which he gladly shares. He often challenges me and helps come up with multiple solutions or understand my technical or non- technical problems. My confidence, my self-esteem and professional approach is growing each day thanks to him. Thank you Paul!
Thank you to Anna 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
- An interview with Palak Lad, Systems Engineer at Schneider Electric
- An interview with Sarah Bedwell, Project Manager at Schneider Electric