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Home » Engineering and Maths » Diverse thinking is a creative boost for engineering companies

Caroline Zyla

Former graduate and now Head of Growth Hub, Precision Engineering, UK

Mohamed Youssef

Former graduate and now Site Leader, Farmington, USA

Paula Okeudo

Former graduate and now Project Engineer, Thompson Valves, UK

Attracting more women into the engineering work environment can add a different dimension to product development and design.

Creating a diverse workforce within an engineering environment can shape better design, product development and customer experience.

In addition, attracting employees from different backgrounds – including more women – and offering an environment where employees can see a career path towards achieving goals, supports better retention, engagement and helps recruit the best talent.

Creating a diverse workforce

Global engineering company IMI – who designs, manufactures and services highly engineered products that control the precise movement of fluids across many sectors such as life sciences, energy and transportation – works to harness the strengths of a diverse workforce with concepts that develop growth and innovation.

Initiatives such as Growth Hub and the Better World Committee enable employees to contribute to the company’s purpose “Breakthrough Engineering for a better world,” be part of its future direction and shape product development and customer solutions.

Caroline Zyla is Head of Growth Hub in the company’s Precision Engineering division, having joined on the graduate scheme 19 years ago. Now based at head office in Birmingham, she has worked in different roles from engineering, supply chain, procurement and project management.

Solving societal problems

The Growth Hub brings together people from IMI’s businesses across the world to diagnose and solve customer and societal problems.

Caroline says: “Embracing diversity of thought and experience is integral to the Growth Hub. Sometimes projects fail because they are higher risk, but when they go well, they go really well.”

Examples of Growth Hub successes include Adaptix, which is a universal work holding system, and work around hydrogen refuelling stations.

“The best ideas have come out of people who have that diversity of thought. But you only get diversity of thought if you have diversity of people.”

Opportunities for women

With numerous opportunities in engineering, she believes there remains a need to encourage more women into the sector. The company actively recruits women at all levels, including through the graduate scheme.

Caroline, who studied manufacturing engineering and management at university, says: “I have never felt there were opportunities I could not do because I am a female.” Emphasising that the degree subject does not have to be engineering related, she adds: “The most important thing is that level of curiosity, that intrigue of making the world better.”

My experience has been quite positive; people saw that if I could do a good job, nobody thought about my gender.

Paula Okeudo

Project management

Paula Okeudo is a Project Engineer at IMI Thompson Valves based in Poole, focussing on developing a career in project management, having worked in different parts of the business.

She studied Mechanical Engineering, specialising in automotive engineering, at the Federal University of Technology at Owerri in south-eastern Nigeria, before moving to the UK. She also has a MSc in Engineering Management.

While acknowledging that engineering is male dominated, she says: “My experience has been quite positive; people saw that if I could do a good job, nobody thought about my gender.” In her role she is solving technical and management problems and is involved in projects in the nuclear, marine and energy sectors.

Enabling a better world

Mohamed Youssef, who runs IMI Precision Engineering’s Farmington factory in the United States, which delivers expertise in valves and layered manifold technology, is an advocate of supporting women in STEM.

Now 31, he joined the company on the graduate scheme in 2013 and did placements around the world after his Master’s in mechanical engineering. Underlining the benefits of a diverse workforce, he says: “It is about having that different mindset and being able to include more outside thinking. A Better World Committee at Farmington, made up of personnel from different levels of the factory, is also helping shape future initiatives.”

By promoting diversity of thought within the STEM industry, we can help businesses and people prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, to not only benefit their customers but also their employees.

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