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When it comes to careers in STEM, employees are looking for companies that care as much about their people as they do their products. Three women share their experiences of finding the right working culture.

Sophie Lemaire

Senior Strategic Applications Engineer at Xilinx

What led you to your current role?

I came to the UK from France two years ago and took advantage of that move to seek a role that came with more responsibility and opportunities for progression.

The customer interaction required for the SAE position at Xilinx was a new challenge that I was excited to tackle.

What does a supportive culture look like in practice?

There are lots of possibilities to evolve. I can learn technical but also soft skills, and managers really listen to what employees want to do.

I’ve also been given extra responsibility. That’s helped me gain confidence and look towards the next challenge.

What would you say to your younger self?

My advice is to do what you want, without taking care of whether this role or career path is mainly done by women or not. Don’t be afraid if it is a challenge, we often aren’t confident enough at the beginning of a career, but facing challenges is really what makes us progress, even step by step.

Heather Crowley

Physical Design Engineer at Xilinx

What great opportunities are available in STEM right now?

Engineering is relevant to so many big issues such as climate change, communications, connectivity and healthcare.

I’ve worked with a talented international team on a number of exciting products; like radio devices for 5G networks.

How important is good company culture?

I’m still at an early stage of my career so a culture of training and development is really important. The work needs to be challenging, but support should be there when you need it.

It’s about having a good work life balance too – that’s something that should be demonstrated by the leadership.

What advice do you have for someone entering the industry?

Engineering is about more than technical knowledge. If you have an interest in problem solving, communications and working with international teams, there are great opportunities.

For students thinking of studying engineering, it is okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do; you can take a general engineering course and specialise later on. The numeracy and problem solving skills you develop are valuable in many different careers.

Aine Heffernan

Senior Director of Customer Operations at Xilinx

To be honest, I joined Xilinx by accident. I signed up for an internship when I finished my business degree and didn’t intend to stay – that was 18 years ago!

The culture is very important, and I want to be somewhere where there’s plenty of opportunity for those who have ambition.

The leadership also need to be passionate about women in technology. Our CEO, Victor Peng,  puts this at the top of our agenda. I couldn’t work for a company where this wasn’t the case. Xilinx membership of CWIT allows us to play an active part in the development of Women in Technology.

There are so many jobs within the industry – many you’ve never even heard of. So, it’s important to be open minded and to find a company that gives you the opportunity to learn and explore different roles.

It’s also important that you bring your true self to work. If you can’t be yourself, you can’t bring everything you have, so don’t feel you have to conform.

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