Brittany Langston, Product Manager – North America, B&R Industrial Automation
BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida
Brittany Langston is a North America Product Manager at B&R for a handful of technologies, primarily related to software. Her purpose in this role is to improve the success and acceptance of these products within North America, and interface regularly with global product management. Prior to this role, she was a senior member of the Product Support team, where she provided engineering support to colleagues/partners / OEMs / end users. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida in 2013 and joined B&R shortly thereafter.
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
The company culture at B&R has always been quite open and informal. Ideas and thoughts are shared regularly without a fear of backlash or having to go through significant red tape, and everyone here is generally down-to-earth and approachable. I think this environment of casual approachability has enabled a sense of humanity in our workplace. It therefore naturally follows that women are valued for our contributions to the team rather than being treated as outliers.
Describe a recent company project (in which you were involved) that went particularly well. How did you and your team go about ensuring success?
There were several factors that ultimately led to success in a project that I recently led. First and foremost, there was mutual respect within our team which enabled a very productive and positive work environment. The big picture deadlines were clearly set, along with the intermediate deadlines in between which helped keep us on track. We had sync meetings every week to discuss progress and roadblocks. Ultimately, we were proud of the product we were making, which easily motivated us to improve and complete it.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
I’ve always been very detail oriented and enjoyed math classes, so engineering was a natural career target. It wasn’t until I was introduced to circuits in my Physics course that I became interested specifically in electrical engineering. Circuits questions were real-life, practical puzzles to me that I got a lot of enjoyment out of solving.
Ultimately the best part of undergrad for me was being a teaching assistant for the microprocessor lab course. I loved the course material and the process of helping guide students to understand it better. This is what ultimately drew me to the support role at B&R Industrial Automation because I got to do a similar function in industry.
Describe your biggest career challenge. How did you solve it — or what was the outcome or lesson learned?
The biggest challenge for me has been learning how to respond and move forward in moments where I’m underestimated. This can happen often when you’re a woman in a male-dominated field, particularly when interacting with people that you don’t already have a working relationship with. In my previous role, there were many times when I answered the phone that the caller would assume I was not part of the engineering team ready to solve their problems. They’d ask to be transferred to “one of the technical guys” (I didn’t oblige, of course) or express audible confusion/skepticism when I clarified that I was the person that was going to help them out. It was quite easy in those moments to slip into doubting myself since the person on the other end of the line had already doubted me.
It took a lot of time and thought to turn those moments of being underestimated and use them as fuel rather than allowing them to consistently trigger self-doubt. I was lucky in that I always had the support of my teammates, which helped me to gain the confidence to be able to traverse those conversations with more boldness. Now as more women are joining B&R in technical roles, I am eager to use my experiences to help others navigate similar situations. It’s easier to reach the glass ceiling when we lift each other up.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
So many things! You’ve come this far, there’s no need to doubt yourself now. It’s okay to not get things right on the first try. Don’t be afraid to vocalize an opposing opinion. Allow yourself to take up some space!
Filed Under: Women in Engineering