Somehow it is not common in all countries to work in the technical industry when you’re a woman. Although there are a lot of initiatives to improve this, not much is changing significantly yet. What women should expect, when they choose the technical path? In this blog I want to tell you something about my experiences and why I like working in a technical environment.
My name is Jessica and I am working as a consultant in the area of Process Integrity & Safety. My job is to help companies with the safety of their installations. One of the ways is a comprehensive assessment of the installation. We identify the most important hazards and make sure that proper measures are taken to minimize the risk of, for example, fatalities of environmental spills. HAZOP (hazard and operability) is one of the studies we use for this, but there are several options. The most important purpose I see in my job is making sure everyone who works on site, visits the company or lives in the neighborhood will still be safe at the end of each working day.
Why this job?
Since I was a young girl, I liked chemistry. I found it intriguing that you can create so many compounds which are good for the world, but in other mixtures they could become hazardous. When deciding on a study, I didn’t know exactly what to do. To keep my options open, I chose Chemical Engineering. A study that has a chemical component, but is still broader than only that. When I finished my master degree, I started to work as a process engineer.
I liked the work of a process engineer, but it still felt like something was missing for me. After a couple of years, I realized what it was. I liked the technical side of the job, but the details necessary for design of an installation, were too much for me. That’s when I changed to my current job. I deal less with design details, but still trying to understand the technical installations and finding hazards within these systems. In addition, the social component of my job during the discussions with a team has a more vital role in my current job and that is something I really like.
Is it challenging to work in a man’s world?
I haven’t seen really big challenges. In general, I like working in a man’s world. Men are mostly more direct, so it’s more simple to understand what they mean or think. Another advantage is that in the men’s group a woman draws the attention much easier. Sometimes during a session, I have a feeling that it is easier for me to lead the group in the right direction, compared to a male speaker. Men like to support women and when I have a question, they really like to help me out.
My job is not necessarily a job for a man or a woman. The type of skills that I do need are:
- Technical understanding of the systems that are being analyzed;
- Being able to ‘translate’ a technical talk to the information, that is easy to understand;
- Being able to chair these technical discussions and lead the meeting;
- Social skills to understand the rising questions , be able to respond and get to the right conclusion;
- Management skills to manage expectations and track progress in certain projects.
It doesn’t matter if your profession is associated with a certain gender and if mostly men or women surround you. The most important is to love what you do and to challenge yourself in getting better or learning new skills. At Bilfinger Tebodin colleagues also help me in challenging myself to get better at what I do. With all the possibilities within the company, you can go in any direction you like. Most important is what you like what you do, not your gender.
Want to know more about my experiences as a technical consultant, please call me: Jessica Vlessert – van de Vosse: +31 6 55 37 13 56