Name: Marisol Salgado
Title: Technical Support Manager, North America
Company: Newark element14
Degree: Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Electronics Engineering, DeVry University
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?
During the time I have been working at Newark element14 I have felt valued, heard and respected. My manager, mentor and HR business partner have always been very supportive in my development. Two key elements that have helped me grow are- receiving constructive feedback and having the freedom to make mistakes without feeling criticized. I can be myself and still feel respected.
At Newark element14 we have a support group for women called RISE. The group meets every month to discuss topics that concern women. I really enjoy the sessions because they help me understand that I am not alone …we all face similar challenges. The sessions promote positive support and the meeting environment is very trusting and open.
As a Technical Support Manager, I love developing my team by being the support they need during their professional and personal challenges. I also enjoy interacting with our customers to help them find a solution to their technical problem. Recommending solutions for a new project or helping a customer in a line down situation is a really rewarding experience.
What first drew you to engineering? / When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?
My curiosity and problem solving skills is what drew me to engineering. I have always enjoyed taking things apart to understand how they work. I love fixing things, and just being able to find a solution to a problem is an awesome feeling.
I was 100% sure I wanted to be an engineer after taking a programming class during my sophomore year in high school. I was fascinated with the idea of executing a task or applications by writing a program. I felt empowered and motivated to learn more.
Were there any influential engineers (women or men) who helped shaped your decision to become an engineer? If so, who and why?
I didn’t have the opportunity to meet engineers during my early years, but my 7th grade math teacher Mr. Wasson played a big role in helping shape my confidence.
I was always good in math and always ranked as a top performer… Two months into the school year my math teacher announced a math competition and encouraged the class to sign up. This was very appealing to me, but it’s not something I immediately signed up for. I waited to see the list of participants and noticed it was all boys…at that moment I decided to not sign up. I felt intimidated. A few days later, Mr. Wasson reached out to me and asked why I had not signed up. He mentioned I was very good in math and thought I would do well. My answer to him was “I’m not sure I am good enough. It looks hard”
He asked me to give it a chance and to join the study sessions, so I did. We started as a group of 12, I was the only female. Mr. Wasson was encouraging and if he felt I was not fully understanding something, he would take the time to review it once more in a different way that made sense to me.
At some point we were all given a math test, the top four performers would advance to the next level. To my surprise, I was part of the top four that made it to the MATHCOUNTS competition. I was very excited and felt empowered. Mr. Wasson helped break the intimidation barrier for me. He helped me understand that I had the same opportunities as the boys and that it was ok to be part of a male dominated team.
Right before the school year ended, Mr. Wasson made a comment that stuck with me throughout the years “You are very good in math and you would do great in engineering science”. I then started to explore more about engineering and how it would fit with what I liked.
Talk about your leadership skills. What lessons have you learned?
I have been with Newark element14 for 16yrs. During my time with the company, I have held several roles within the Technical Support Department. In my recent role as NA Technical Support Manager, my biggest lesson has been that my effectiveness as a leader is not defined by what I get done personally, but by what results my team delivers. For this reason- I have learned to understand my team and encourage them to do their best. I have also learned to ask for help… we are more powerful, stronger and effective when we work together.
Have you worked with younger engineers as a mentor, to help them in their career? Or describe any involvement in any STEM or STEAM programs for young people.
At the moment I am not actively mentoring, but I have mentored young girls in the past. The program was a community based program for low-income families. Many times these girls don’t have the opportunity to meet professional women in STEM fields and lack access to hands on starter kits that can help motivate and nurture their interest. My role in this program was to help girls (4th-6th grade) understand what it means to be an engineer, what is needed for an engineer to do a job well and to give them the hands on experience that would allow these girls to see the endless opportunities that are available in STEM fields.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote greater participation of young women in engineering today?
Throughout the years, there’s been a lot great initiatives to increase the number of young women in engineering. In my opinion, the key is to continue to support these initiatives along with efforts that expose young women at an early age to activities that boost spatial reasoning. Being able to creatively visualize and mentally manipulate images is a key success factor in all STEM fields. This skill will also boost their confidence level to quickly solve complex problems.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self — to be kind to yourself. Understand you don’t have to have it all planned out, embrace change and enjoy the ride. Keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. The challenge is always to get past the feeling of wanting to return to your comfort state, you will only grow and develop confidence from that discomfort.
[A condensed version of this sponsored profile appears in the November “Women in Engineering” issue of Design World.]