By Joseph Mathieu
Photos by Melanie Mathieu

Hiring diverse talent helps organizations improve their bottom line. The Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton University has been a leader in helping support the student to professional talent pipeline as shown through its partner backed Women in Engineering & IT (WiE&IT) Program.

Earlier this year, we hosted our inaugural Workshop Day, brought to students by Gastops and CAE. The event provided practical branding and interviewing insights with informal mentorship opportunities.

The Need for Soft Skill Development

The event was created to address women student feedback that advocated for a chance for women students of all backgrounds—including racialized women, women with disabilities and Indigenous women—to practice soft skills and polish their resumes.

Devanshee Kalpeshkumar Vankani is a graduate student in engineering. She is also a Graduate Assistant, hired by the Women in Engineering & IT Program.

Devanshee Kalpeshkumar Vankani, an engineering student with a specialization in Computer Software Engineering, wanted to study physics and maths from a young age.

“My dad is a professor and a mathematician, and I grew up always seeing him solving problems,” said Vankani. “I want to do that as well.”

Vankani was one of the 113 women students who attended the event. She helps run WiE&IT events throughout the academic year that support women students by introducing them to mentors and colleagues and offering them career and networking opportunities.

“I love what I’m doing right now because students tell me they feel confident and comfortable after they have attended the events,” she said.

At Workshop Day, Vankani helped register attendees before sitting in on the morning session led by Michelle Liu, an engineer, speaker and researcher of equity and inclusion in engineering.

Liu discussed personal branding and daily existence as a member of a gender minority in STEM. Their session offered advice on updating CVs and LinkedIn profiles as well as navigating the industry while balancing their expressions of identity and career goals.

The Day helped articulate for Vankani that, in any career, “the person should be seen as a person with a skillset, not as their gender.”

Event Impact

Attendee and engineering student Naureen Khan felt the same way.

“At the end of the day, it’s not your gender that matters,” says Khan. “It’s your leadership qualities and what you bring to the table.”

Khan discovered the WiE&IT newsletter shortly after starting her electrical and engineering program at Carleton. She became an enthusiastic member of the program and attended all of its mentorship events last fall.

“For me, who’s new to the country altogether, I needed to find a space to connect with my industry,” said Khan. “I feel like every country has their own ways in which they operate; their own rules and protocols. So, it’s important to connect with the industry and get insight into what they look for.”

For Khan, the afternoon session with Selena Rezvani discussing interviewing techniques and personal branding was one of the best talks she’s attended. Rezvani, a consultant, speaker and author on self-advocacy and leadership, touched on how students could identify their zones of genius and build a leadership brand.

Khan found this talk extremely motivating.

“Women just need to be given the chance and they can do wonders,” she said.

Student to Professional Pipeline

Pooja Suresh is the Director of Corporate Strategy at Gastops.

Canadian industry partners play a big part in making events like Workshop Day a reality. The event would not have been possible without CAE, an international flight simulation, modelling and training company, and Gastops, an Ottawa-based data diagnostic and prognostic technologies company.

Pooja Suresh, Director of Corporate Strategy from Gastops, spoke at the event and described it as the perfect place to meet the leaders of tomorrow.

“We believe that diverse and inclusive teams are better in every way,” said Suresh. “We have seen the results: we are more innovative, it helps the business grow and, more importantly, we have higher employee satisfaction and engagement.”

Suresh is building a network of allies and advancing diversity in leadership in the defence and technology sectors in Ottawa, and Gastops has made equity a priority: women make up at least half of their co-op cohorts every year.

“This program is a great example of how we can all come together to inspire inclusion in our fields,” she said. “And we are truly relying on all of you to help us get there.”

Friday, March 8, 2024 in , , , , ,
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