Name: Angelica Perzan
Job Title: Sales Engineer
Company: maxon precision motors
Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women? What do you enjoy about working there as an engineer?
I am fortunate that my employer is focused on the individual rather than his or her gender. maxon gives me and my male colleagues the same opportunities to be successful and to reach new heights in our careers. My direct supervisor consistently asks myself, as well as the others, what we need in order to reach our personal and career goals. His willingness to take the extra step of mentorship is a large factor of why I want to do well. If I do well, the company does well – I am confident that he believes this as well.
What first drew you to engineering? / When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?
My father founded his own company when he came to this country from Poland in the early 1980s. I was raised in a home where your gender would never define your career path. I always enjoyed math, so my parents suggested I pursue engineering. After my first engineering course in high school, it just seemed like the logical choice. Additionally, I attended an all-girls high school where again I was surrounded by people who wanted to promote women.
Were there any influential engineers (women or men) who helped shaped your decision to become an engineer? If so, who and why?
My father was a large influence in my life. He was able to become a successful engineer in the US without knowing the language or having a penny to his name. The milestones in his life seemed that much greater because of his hurdles.
Talk about your leadership skills. What lessons have you learned?
The most important aspect of being a leader, is to understand when to take a step back. Taking a step back and collaborating with a team, may by definition make you a follower, but being a team player makes you the best type of leader.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote greater participation of young women in engineering today?
Exposure is key. Historically, gender roles have been established at an early age – down to the color of children’s toys. Barbie was always a princess, never a mathematician. I believe the first step to getting more women involved in STEM fields is parent involvement. Expose your children to all their possibilities.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry about “embarrassing” yourself. Take a risk, ask the questions that pop into your mind, don’t let other people’s judgements hinder your growth.
[A condensed version of this sponsored profile appears in the November “Women in Engineering” issue of Design World.]