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Women in Engineering: FISITA President Nadine Leclair

FISITA is committed to supporting the next generation of mobility engineers, and encouraging female engineers to enter the mobility profession in academia and industry roles. We caught up with FISITA President Ms. Nadine Leclair to get some fantastic and insightful advice, information and encouragement for the next generation of female engineers:

What skills/qualifications/experience do aspiring mobility engineers need?

The mobility eco-system is increasing because of new technologies being embarked upon all along the value chain: we need more “vertical” skills: connectivity, internet, power electronics, battery, cyber protections, ethernet network etc.

We are much more customer-centric within this eco system, so that systems design, mobilization, simulation is also an important skill.

We are offering experience and services on top of usage so that we need to experiment what we want to propose as such – the way we work is changing: digitalization, agile mode etc.

All of that on top of existing “verticals”: real time software, materials, electronics, physics, CAE, architecture, lay out etc.

In that sense, a career path is potentially broadly enriched, providing that your added value is well perceived. Through a system approach and philosophy, you can move and enrich your experience. Of course, management experience associated to a technical one is still an open field – and also innovation because business is going to be re-invented.

Are placements/work experience the best way of gaining experience?

For sure placement/work experience has been for a long time the traditional way to gain experience, it was based on the fact that you learn as you work by delivering, but also during exchanges with colleagues, experts, managers you learn what to do and how to do it simultaneously, “on the spot”.

According to what is currently occurring: digitalization, pandemic context, it may be that the how, especially related to the collective know how, and values are going to be re-worked.

Being involved around the object to design, the system to design, and as far as we can, share the global view, the holistic views are the key items to enjoy the work. If you enjoy the work, you would learn and gain a lot of valuable experience.

What was your first professional experience in the mobility industry?

My first experience in this industry was based in “computer aid design” and the “product life cycle management” associated with this. Then i moved quickly to car structure design, involved in teams of designers looking together for the optimised design. I was involved logically also in the technologies to produce the sheet metal parts. Moving that way, I “fell in love” with the product: the car and his industry!

Do you think you’ve faced challenges in the mobility industry that male counterparts may not have?

Regarding feminine gender, I think that there is no difference in the challenges to face. It is a question of “personality” not gender. The only advice based on my experience is, don’t stay in support functions of the industry you serve; it is important for credibility to be in charge of operational jobs, be a manager, even if support functions are useful as an experience – needing to think about methodologies improved by experience. Regarding how the challenge is faced, of course you are more visible when operational, because you could be one of only a few in such a position. If you are passionate by your work, you don’t care.

What is your biggest achievement?

I have not got a single biggest achievement, it depends on the criteria to rank achievements: technical achievement, management, change, danger you mitigate for your organization, people development, business impact, sustainable impact.

The last one, putting the right experts at the right place in order to strengthen and to boost transversally the capabilities of the company, is probably one of the most important related to sustainability.

I am very proud of my achievements in all those fields, and proud of the teams I belonged to, that faced the challenges.

Do you have a favourite resource for women working in mobility?

In order to succeed, you need a pallet of resources – the ability to understand a situation is for sure one of my preferred one, because then you can plan to act and progress with relevant people.

How do you think the automotive engineering sector is helping women to enter the industry?

New technologies embarked upon is a way to allow women to enter in the industry because you get rid of “traditions, culture, ...” I came to the mobility industry through digitalization of the design – my degree was more as a mechanical engineer even if “generalist”.

In 3 words how do you see the current mobility engineering industry?

3 words is a hard challenge to describe the revolution related to the what and the how to deliver products, experiences and business serving the environmental issue.

We are at a corner stone of this industry because of all the lives and jobs involved. Engineers must design sustainable solutions that are still competitive for the companies they work for.

The universities, schools, laboratories have a very big role to play to prepare this new generation of engineers.


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