An Exciting Time to be a Woman in Engineering
by Zineb El Kabiri Roels, RAMS Manager
I have a great job providing passengers on transit lines around the world a comfortable commute. I was first recruited in 2011 by Faiveley Transport, now Wabtec Corporation, as a Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) System Engineer for the rail industry. I discovered my passion for air-conditioning design during my internship and knew I wanted to pursue this field as my career.
What I loved the most about this role was its cross-functional element. A System Engineer must have knowledge of all the subsystems to collaborate with the different specialists and lead customer discussions. The air-conditioning unit involves various technical areas where we need to keep updated on cutting-edge technologies and find solutions to stand out amongst the competitors. The endless rising technical constraints bring new challenges every day.
I find it very exciting and interesting to design a unit from scratch, follow the project until the final validation on the train and see the fulfilling outcome of succeeding as a team.
Furthermore, I am privileged to be part of Wabtec – a global organization with mobility opportunities, which fulfills my passion in technology, traveling, foreign languages and discovering new cultures.
In nearly a decade with Wabtec, I’ve had the chance to work in three different countries (France, India and Germany). These opportunities opened new horizons and remains my most enriching experience so far. It allowed me to grow my values of tolerance and open-mindedness. It made me prove and improve my ability to adapt.
I moved to my current position in Germany at the perfect time in my career. Wabtec supported my parental leave, while I had my first baby. Upon my return from parental leave, I was given the opportunity to participate in an Accelerated Growth Program for Women Employees – “PROPEL”.
The PROPEL program is intended to provide high-potential women employees with opportunities to grow in Wabtec by exposing them to work on cross-functional projects, leadership development trainings and a strong support of mentors. Through this program, I worked on a project outside of my domain, developed a global network of peers from across the business and increased my connectivity to senior leaders. The mentoring helped me through a recent career shift. I found the engineering career, but the career in Reliability Availability Maintainability and Safety (RAMS) found me when I was offered a role as a RAMS manager.
My role as RAMS manager is to ensure all risks on our HVAC products are mitigated and deliver safe, reliable, and easily maintainable systems.
Shifting from system engineering to RAMS was a hard decision, but I was motivated by the new challenge. In the end, I found that many of the engineering skills such as problem solving, analytical approaches and project management were easily transferable between fields.
I also discovered I was drawn to leadership roles where I could collaborate with others, implement change, and put to test my communication skills.
For sure, it is an exciting time to be a woman in engineering, particularly with so much evolving in the Energy and HVAC industry. It is also important to work for a company like Wabtec that believes in you. The company is willing to invest in your professional development, prioritizes work-life balance and develops products that are environment friendly.