“Don’t let anyone make you lose your voice and listen to others…” – An interview with Leesa Kingman
A few weeks ago, we came across the brilliant Leesa Kingman, who was talking at a “Girls Into Coding” event.
With an already impressive outreach into Diversity in Tech and being someone who has climbed to the top of her career ladder, having held senior positions in the world of Electronics & Software Engineering, there was no one better to have part of our blog.
Leesa believes in approaching D&I in the right way, including all and excluding none. Read her insight into the world of Engineering below…
SO INTRODUCE US TO YOU…
I am an Embedded Team Lead, I work for a company called Arralis in Swindon. I have spent 20 years in industry after studying Computer Systems Engineering at the University Of Sussex. I grew up in a small town of Midsomer Norton near Bath. I never realised I was unusual until I got to university to discover I was 1 of 4 engineers in a cohort of 200! Engineering has been a rewarding and interesting career. No two days are the same and there is always something new learn. I like to spent my time supporting STEM by talking to girls about engineering, supporting activities in school and generally promoting what a great career choice it is.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO APPROACH PEOPLE ABOUT DIVERSITY TO GET THEM ON BOARD?
Open a conversation and engage who you are talking to. Don’t lecture but ask for opinions so you can have a discussion on the topic. Taking your time to understand where someone else is coming from is so important. How can I expect someone to listen to me if I don’t give that person the same courtesy? Do not exclude men from the conversation is so important. There are so many groups that see men as the issue and create a group just for women. You are not going to solve anything by excluding people.
HOW HAVE YOU NAVIGATED COVID AND BEING A WORKING MUM?
There has been highs and lows! Being able to work from home was a great advantage. Trying to juggle meetings and helping with home schooling was difficult at times but finding times of the day where I could focus on work or focus on home schooling definitely helped. Realising you cannot do everything at once and finding a balance allowed me to do both effectively rather than feeling I was failing at both!
TO DATE, WE’VE FOUND THAT YOUR MORE TRADITIONAL ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS ARE SLOWER TO EMBRACE D&I THAN YOUR STANDARD TECH. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
I think some of this is down to linking the reason why. If companies understand that D&I has a positive impact on the bottom line rather than it just being a tick box exercise. Diverse teams come up with the best solutions. There are less females in traditional engineering environments so less champions in management positions.
EDUCATION HAS A HUGE IMPACT ON HOW DIVERSE SUBJECTS ARE. DO YOU THINK ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS COULD BE DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY TO HAVE A BETTER IMPACT?
I don’t think schools understand what engineering is, careers advice is limited to what is understood. Teaching the curriculum with real world applications will not only inspire, but allow children and young people to learn better. If you can relate what is being taught to something in real life, it is remembered and understood so much more easily. My daughter understands what an engineer is and that it isn’t a male profession. We are limiting our future generations by having male/female jobs.
ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG ASPIRING ENGINEERS?
Believe in yourself, get as much information as you can via people in industry, work experience, internet research, attend course/events
TOP TIPS FOR STAYING SANE THROUGHOUT LOCKDOWNS?
Finding some me time, getting out and exercising.
QUOTE OF THE DAY?
Don’t let anyone make you lose your voice and listen to others… You have valid thoughts and opinions. It took me a long time to find mine but now I won’t allow anyone to quieten it.
Thank you Leesa for sharing your thoughts and story with us… you rock! #womenrock
Interview by Charles Hoskins
A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3