International Women in Engineering Day 2021
June 23, 2021
Today is International Women in Engineering Day. To celebrate and recognise some of the talented female engineers working at MBB Group, we interviewed Assistant Project Manager Parisa Ghasri. Parisa discusses what attracted her to engineering, who inspires her and her advice to girls and women who want to pursue a STEM career.
What’s your background? How did you get where you are today?
I grew up in Iran and came to Australia to study when I was 18 years old. I completed my BA in Civil Engineering with Honours at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). While I was studying, I spent a year working for a residential construction company. After that, I started working for an engineering consultancy and then joined MBB last year. I’m currently working on the Sydney Metro Engineering Design Solutions (EDS) project as an Assistant Design/Project Manager.
What attracted you to engineering? What are your passions?
My attraction to Engineering stems from the various engineers I have in my family who have all been successful in their fields. At high school, my strongest subjects were Maths and Physics, so Engineering seemed like a natural career choice.
Having considered my options, I chose Engineering as I knew it would suit best for me and my aspirations. I love learning, and as an Engineer there are always opportunities to be involved in something new and challenging. It’s an industry that never stands still!
Who inspires you?
I have worked with many inspiring and successful Project Managers/Engineers during my career so far. One of the Construction Managers that I previously worked with (Michael Gray – who is also one of my mentors), taught me a lot about the importance of contingency planning in construction and how having an efficient and practical system will positively impact a project’s success.
You’re working as an Assistant Design/Project Manager on Sydney Metro Engineering Design Solutions (EDS). What does a typical day involve for you? How do you use your engineering skills?
I am currently working with the Line-wide/Trains Systems Maintenance Operation team at EDS. This is a multi-disciplinary team that includes more than 20 disciplines such as Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical etc.
On a day-to-day basis I have lots of opportunity to work with the Design Leads and assist them with coordination and management of the design stage. My main role is management and coordination. This involves more Project Management principles than engineering, however, having a Civil Engineering background assists with better understanding of Design.
What do you enjoy about your role?
Working in a Project/Design management position, I get a broad overview of a project, rather than focusing on a small section of the package. I enjoy seeing how everything links together. As an Engineer, I have been in road and rail infrastructure, bridge rehabilitation and residential projects. This past year, I was involved in a more commercial role as a transaction advisor. Having the opportunity to be involved in different stages of a project and learning new and exciting things is my favourite part of being a consultant.
Have you come up against much gender inequality during your career?
Australia is more forward thinking than many other countries, but there is still a long way to go. During my time at university, there were only two other girls in my year. Having said that, it’s really positive to see things are gradually changing, and the proportion of women working in STEM-qualified industries increased from 24% in 2016 to 27% in 2020*.
I also believe it really depends on the company culture. If you can find an organisation where you feel supported and there are great female role models it helps! At MBB, 50% of the senior management team are women, which is well above industry average.
What advice would you give to girls who are interested in STEM careers?
Never doubt yourself! Don’t let the fact that it’s a male dominated industry intimidate you. You will build confidence as you study and start your career. Get as much experience as you can. Start doing internships, be in the environment, find out how companies operate and systems work. If you ever feel uncomfortable, speak out. I really recommend getting a mentor, as this assisted me in making key decisions in my career. Ask lots of questions and never be afraid of making mistakes. If you are passionate about Engineering or any career path, do not let stereotypes stop you from following your dream!
* Source: STEM Equality Monitor 2021 https://www.industry.gov.au/news/second-national-data-report-on-girls-and-women-in-stem