On the second Wednesday of each month, DiscoverE’s Persist Series virtually connects thousands of women around the world for conversations that will help them persevere and thrive in their engineering and tech careers. Engineers Canada is proud to partner with DiscoverE and to support the Persist Series.
The upcoming June episode of Persist will feature New Brunswick’s Amy Winchester, a senior chemical engineer at CBCL, a leading multidisciplinary engineering and environmental consulting firm in Atlantic Canada. Winchester is CBCL’s first female Director on the Board and is heavily involved in diversity and professional development initiatives. She’s also a mom of three and has learned the many ways to define and redefine what success looks like.
Below, Winchester gives a sneak peak at some of the topics that she’ll address on June 9 during the Persist Series episode, “Reframing Success” (register here).
Engineers Canada: DiscoverE’s 2021 theme is Imagining Tomorrow. When you think about women in engineering and technology, what do you imagine for tomorrow?
Winchester: When I imagine the future of engineering and technology, I see a world where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, and ideas. I see teams trusting each other and connecting, environments where they can make mistakes and ask lots of questions. As the industry evolves and becomes more diverse, it brings a level of comfort to new people who no longer think that to succeed means you have to look, act, and be like everyone else. You can be yourself and be confident that you will find a path to your own success.
EC: What is your advice/message for other women in engineering who are imagining their own futures in the profession?
Find your own success – Everyone has a different idea of success. When I was young, I thought being successful meant having money and a title. But as I’ve gotten older and met many people, I’ve learned that what I want is different than what someone else wants. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what makes me happy. Having financial security is part of it but I realize that more so, I want to know that I’m respected for the work I do. I want the freedom to spend time with my kids and volunteer with their activities. I want to know that I’m trusted to do my work. What does success mean to you?
Be patiently persistent – Change won’t happen overnight. It will take time to develop your skills. It will take time to earn the respect of your peers. But don’t give up. Keep trying. Make mistakes, everyone does. Take time to learn what happened and how you can improve.
Don’t compare yourselves to others, be yourself – I used to try and be like other successful people I knew. But I could never write in their style or interact with people the way they do. Then I realized that we are all different and I needed to find my voice and learn how to do my best, my own way.
Watch for opportunities because they don’t usually look like what you thought they should. Volunteer to take on tasks and always do a good job. People will take notice of your work ethic, commitment to quality and attitude towards the product. You never know how one opportunity will lead to the next.
Meet people and take time to get to know them – Everyone has something to offer. Make an effort to listen to what people have to say and respect their input. Always give credit where it’s due and where possible, be someone’s cheerleader. You will build positivity and a sense of inclusion and belonging in your workplace.
Finally - Have fun!
EC: What kinds of values and elements do you think will help transform the culture of the field?
AW: There’s no doubt that engineers are intelligent problem solvers. We go to school and learn math, sciences, thermodynamics, and so much more. We regularly bore our friends and family with details and spreadsheets. But I think we also need to look further than the numbers.
If I had to pick a couple of elements that will help transform the culture of our field, I would choose versatility and vulnerability.
Versatility – there is not one type of problem so there has to be many possible solutions. Be ready to change course as you learn more.
Vulnerability – I am drawn to people who are humble and admit when they made a mistake. I am less scared of making my own mistakes and don’t feel like I have to know everything to add value to the project.
I started working in the engineering field over 20 years ago and have been fortunate to work with great people. Today I have a job I love with people I respect, balanced with my time as a Mom. But like everyone, my life and career didn’t always go as planned. When unexpected events occurred, I had to learn to cope, adjust and reframe my path. Luckily I’ve always been surrounded by supportive family, friends and colleagues. On June 9th, I’m excited to share more of my stories with you as part of DiscoverE’s Persist Series.
Register here to join Winchester and her CBCL colleagues from Atlantic Canada, Victoria Fernandez and Annie Cormier, on June 9 to chat about remaining versatile, vulnerable, and patiently persistent as you find your own success.