With many students receiving their exam results at the moment, we thought it would be a good idea to feature another article in our women in engineering series to encourage students to consider a career in this sector.
This one is from Virginia Hodge, Senior Project Safety Manager with NATS.
I am a Senior Project Safety Manager with NATS and also a Fellow with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). As such I believe passionately in the importance of mentoring and encouraging others to develop their engineering careers.
After graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science from Brunel University, I started my career as a Software Engineer. Over the years I have held several other positions as my career has developed including: Project Manager; Technology Strategist; Systems Engineer; Test Architect; Software Architect; Enterprise Architect and even heading up the IT in a SME (Small Medium Enterprise) business.
I really enjoy developing strategic solutions and working in the highly demanding systems environment. The challenge and variability of the actual tasks involved in fulfilling the function of my job, as well as working with different and interesting people makes my role very rewarding. I also gain a great deal of satisfaction from seeing something which I have developed deliver real results.
I joined NATS from the defence sector when they were recruiting for an engineer in a similar field as I wanted a new challenge. NATS is a great company to work for, which explains why I have been with them now for ten years.
Today, one of the most important aspects of my professional life is inspiring women to consider engineering as a career and to help those that have already made it their first choice. I do this by acting as a role model and by being a Trustee of the IET, one of the biggest Professional Engineering Institutions in the UK with 160,000 members, 500 staff and a turnover of £50m.
I chair the IET’s Volunteer Support Working Party which looks at ways to improve the support they provide to all their volunteers. As a Trustee I also get to network with professionals at all stages of their careers as well as representing the IET at the awards they have sponsored. This has included the FDM Everywomen in Technology awards in 2013 and the WISE awards in 2013 and 2014. The latter gave me the opportunity to meet HRH The Princess Royal who is the Patron of WISE.
Before I became an IET Trustee I was the Chair of the Solent Network Committee, so I was able to meet young professionals at a local level to help them develop their careers. I continue to do this by attending meetings and by mentoring engineers within NATS.
I have been lucky to meet many inspirational engineers during my career and think it is important to give back and help the next generation. Having good engineers, regardless of gender, is important to NATS as well as to the UK as they provide such an important role in industry, commerce and the nation’s infrastructure.
The opportunities for engineers, especially at NATS, are fantastic and you don’t get pigeon-holed into a particular niche, as you can see from my experience, so you should not get bored. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys problem solving and challenges.
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