Title: Director of Permitting
Company: Pioneer Consulting
Education: Bachelor's degree in environmental biology and Ph.D. in Ecotoxicology from Napier University
Achievements/Awards: Capacity Magazine's 20 Women to Watch List 2021, Mission Critical Women in Technology Award 2022
What led you to a career in technology?
My career started in studying biology. It was during this time that I began questioning what society was doing to the planet, and I branched into environmental sciences. Through career development, I fell in love with spatial mapping and using geographical information systems (GIS), and that is how I encountered the world of environmental assessment.
Throughout my career, my role has been to ensure the environment is not harmed by our advances in technology. This is a career I’ve developed and one which continues to inspire me. My desire to learn and know there are opportunities to further grow, regardless of age and gender, is my biggest motivation.
What motivates you to go above and beyond in your current position?
I desire to see the pursuit of technological advancement. I find great reward in knowing I play a role in facilitating this, ultimately making the world a more welcoming place for everyone.
What role does sustainability play in your life both personally and professionally?
I’ve dedicated my career to sustainable development, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to pursue a career in this field. One way I have carried the sustainability component of my work beyond the field is by having visited my children's school to share what I do for my job. It's so important to impress the idea of managing natural assets in the correct way upon the younger generation because the combination of environment and industry is not always a harmonious one. I enjoy sharing this critical component of sustainability in my work with young people, so as to foster a generation that will responsibly manage our natural assets for the benefit of all.
In my personal life, I make sure I’m educated on environmental and social awareness so that my family and I can make informed decisions to lead a more sustainable life. Sometimes it is not always possible to make the right choice, but I try to find a balance and accept that I can only do my best.
What is the most fascinating lesson you have learned while working with technology?
Work comes and goes, and no matter what life throws at you, you’ve still got contributions to make. Skills are most important and continuous learning is critical. It takes true perseverance and curiosity, but in the end, it’s worth it.
What is unique about you personally?
I have an incredible thirst for knowledge that drives me to continuously strive to further develop both professionally and personally. From an early age, I learned that education is also the route to achieve financial independence. Education expands the mind and creates new opportunities to explore the world beyond where we reside. This is something I am passionate about, which resulted in my time spent investing in the educational development of the younger generation by serving as both a lecturer and thesis supervisor for graduate students.
What is unique about you professionally?
I consider myself fortunate to have worked in many different sectors, which include academia, government, and industry. This diverse background has afforded me great insight into the nuances of each sector and how it operates. As a result, I am able to approach my work with a perspective that encompasses the desires of all parties involved in a subsea cable project. This ultimately allows me to foster mutually beneficial relationships that serve the project and communities involved.
What is your most admirable quality?
I would say inquisitiveness, which draws upon my earlier comment about continuously seeking knowledge. As a naturally curious person, I thoroughly enjoy being able to combine this component of my personality with the challenge of delivering quality output while providing financial value to solve business roadblocks.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion necessary for this industry?
Every person has a unique story and has had experiences that have shaped them to be the individuals they are today. Different perspectives allow us all to not only approach problems more efficiently to find creative and productive solutions but also provide us with the opportunity to view the world from another point of view. When we step outside the reality that we live in to see the world through someone else's eyes, that creates the opportunity to grow not just professionally but also personally.
I'm a big advocate for seeing more girls and women involved in the technology industry, especially in subsea telecommunications. The telecom field is largely dominated by men, and I strive to be an example to girls and women, demonstrating in my work what is possible with hard work and dedication. It is a life goal of mine to introduce more girls and women to STEM subjects, which ultimately would benefit everyone.
What aspect of the industry has the most potential for growth, and how can we accelerate that?
The subsea fiber industry is experiencing a boom right now,due to humanity shifting entirely online for everything — from streaming television shows to playing games with friends to holding video conferences for work. Everything is taking place at home.
This will persist, but we desperately need the supply chain to keep up — data centers, spare parts in the manufacturing process, and cable ships, to name a few.
Where does the industry need the most improvement, and what can we learn from the current shortcomings?
We need more men to be ambassadors for young women entering a career in technology. They are the key here to be involved — they play a crucial role in creating opportunities for women. They can be game changers in shifting cultures and banishing harmful gender norms.
When you imagine the future technology, what does it look like?
That's a great question. I think technology will progress to a point that it will ultimately serve to ensure a better quality of life for all and reduce our overall environmental footprint. In particular, I believe technology will develop where we will see nanobots that will enable us to connect to the cloud, creating an environment where everyone has access to higher-quality goods and services that are produced faster and delivered at a lower cost.
What advice do you have for women and other minorities who are currently working in the industry but don’t necessarily feel like they belong?
When faced with an obstacle as a woman in STEM, it is crucial to be confident and honest in expressing your concerns. It is not a weakness to speak up, as I once may have thought early on in my career. You may find that what you receive in return is support and encouragement from your colleagues.
Finding a mentor or other female role models, whether it is a family member, colleague, or a friend, will go a long way.
What advice do you have for young girls who may be interested in a future career in technology?
I would say “go for it!” for the following important reasons:
- Women in technology bring diversity.
- More women in male-dominated industries can help narrow the gender pay gap.
- You earn more in a STEM field — nearly double the national average wage for non-STEM occupations. A good financial standing is essential to your independence.
- More female representation ensures a diverse, intelligent, and talented workforce and can further prevent biases in the creation of products and services provided by industry.
- It breaks down stigmas and deep-rooted female stereotypes, further producing more role models for young women wanting to enter a STEM career.
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