Project Engineer, Operations Engineering, Abbott
Female STEM employees from a leading healthcare company are helping to encourage and promote more girls into STEM through community initiatives.
Saheela Mohammed has been dedicated to advancing STEM careers since she was a bioengineering student. Now a project engineer at Abbott in Witney, Oxfordshire, Saheela’s outreach work led to her being awarded the Technology Rising Star Award at the 2020 Women of Color STEM Conference.
Saheela says: “As a student I saw how applications such as cardiovascular devices, new imaging technologies and diabetes monitoring technology – which we work on here – can help people live fuller and healthier lives.”
She applied for the Abbott graduate programme, which provides structured development through multiple rotations across a range of disciplines. “It means working in different departments, including manufacturing and R&D and on manufacturing projects and operations planning. I started with a spell on the factory floor, which helps you with planning efficiencies in engineering processes.”
Abbott is passionate about empowering women from all backgrounds to pursue engineering careers and Saheela is active in highlighting the opportunities.
She leads a team of ten volunteers across the Witney site who deliver talks about the value of STEM careers. “It includes engineers, scientists and technologists, so young people can see a variety of roles in STEM,” she says. “We give presentations at events and schools and offer mock interview practice and work experience at our diabetes care manufacturing site.”
Saheela is also active in Abbott’s local Women in STEM and Women Leaders of Abbott employee network chapters, which connect and support female leaders and employees. Both are part of wider initiatives across the company.
Currently only 9% of UK engineers are from underrepresented groups.
Supporting engineers from underrepresented communities
Outside of Abbott, Saheela is part of the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK), which provides support for engineering students. Currently only 9% of UK engineers are from underrepresented groups, although they average 29.9% of engineering university graduates, according to AFBE-UK.
“We are also involved with the STEMReturners initiative, which helps STEM candidates to re-start their careers after a break,” says Saheela. One of Abbott’s key recent hires came through this route.
Saheela says: “We are always busy – but I am excited to be helping promote STEM careers in our wider society.”