There are so many reasons I love being a part of Women & Hi Tech. From the professional networking and development opportunities to the community outreach work within STEM education, Women & Hi Tech has made me more confident in my career and allowed me to positively impact women STEM professionals. In my 35 year engineering career I have learned that it is not as important to move up as your career progresses as it is to move out and have your circle of influence build. Adding skills and experience, as well as increasing complexity of work, can lead to a huge sense of fulfillment, a fun learning curve, and constant challenges.
I planned the July ’20 Executive Women’s Forum with the goal of conveying that sometimes leveraging a skill by stepping out into a non-traditional STEM field can lead to work that is enriching and fun. In other words, it increases your circle of influence. Construction was our spotlight. I had several attendees reach out to me after the panel discussion communicating they had never thought to use their project management, problem solving or leadership skills in this industry. They thought you had to know how to complete an engineering design, pour concrete, wire a building, install framing or weld piping. While those direct skills are definitely critical for construction; project planning, organizing, communication, financial control and problem solving (to only name a few) are just as important. Attendees conveyed they had light bulbs go off on how to think differently about where they can leverage their skills and provide value.
Transferable skills are vitally important in today’s work environment. My STEM skills have allowed me to successfully design, construct, manage projects, lead staff, run operations, consult as well as chair non-profit boards. Who would have thought one chemical engineering degree could be leveraged across this breath of work! It has made me feel empowered and independent.
I enjoyed collaborating with the Executive Women in Finance team of Nickie Redick and Chaleise Fleming to jointly provide a forum that shared a new avenue to exploit STEM skills. I am thankful our awesome and distinguished panel – Jeanne Fuqua (CH Barnett), Sarah Hempstead (Schmidt Associates), Phil Kenney (Wilhelm), Melanie King (Hagerman) and Brittney Turner (Wilhelm) – contributed their considerable expertise and time to our program. As I transition to the President-Elect role within Women & Hi Tech I intend to continue doing my best to be a mentor, to advance women in their STEM pursuits and to support a robust STEM pipeline of talent in Indiana. I encourage those who were not able to attend virtually the day of the event to check out the recording on Women & Hi Tech’s YouTube channel!
Linda Hicks, Women & Hi Tech President-Elect