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Home » Women in STEM » Role models and company support are key for STEM leadership success

Juliana Moraes

Tender Director, Schneider Electric

Career progression can thrive in a supportive company culture, especially when employee development in leadership skills is encouraged and valued within the organisation. 

Sometimes inspiration strikes from unexpected places, as was the case for Juliana Moraes when she was considering course options for college. “When I had to pick a subject to study at university, I thought about my dad who really liked Formula One and we would watch together. This helped my decision to study mechanical engineering,” she says.  

Now, Moraes works at Schneider Electric as the tender director for Ireland, a company that aligns with her interests in sustainability and clean, renewable energy. “I’m a mechanical engineer, but now I’m learning so much about the electrical side of engineering,” she says. “When I think about the girl who started mechanical engineering just because of Formula One, today the situation is so different.” 

“Now I know what I want to do and why I want to do it. It’s important for people to realise that they don’t need to know the exact route they’ll take to become an engineer because so many different paths exist and opportunities will arise. Engineering is in everything,” she adds. 

Inspired by role models 

During her university years, Moraes was one of just two women in her class. Trying to fit in within a male-dominated environment could be challenging at times, she says, especially trying to find ways of speaking up and being listened to. Having female role models has been fundamental in positively shaping Moraes’ perspective of women in engineering roles.  

“My first role model is my mum, who is also an engineer,” she says. “Because of her, it was normal to think that women could be engineers in leadership positions.” Moraes has also found several female role models at work, such as Rhonda Doyle Senior Director of Field Services Operations UK & Ireland who recently was awarded Business Woman of the Year by Chambers Ireland, who help her thrive in a new industry and taught her the ropes within the company. “They inspire me so much,” she says. 

Diversity brings different points
of view and brings creativity.

An evolving field 

The engineering field is typically known for its gender imbalance, but this is changing thanks to widespread industry initiatives. At Schneider Electric, for example, they actively encourage more women into engineering roles by meeting key employment targets, such as a 50% gender split among graduate and early career intakes.  

They’ve also created development programmes to equip talented female employees with leadership skills to help accelerate their career progression to become future leaders in the organisation. “I think diversity brings different points of view and brings creativity,” says Moraes. “One of the things that excited me about Schneider Electric during the interview was seeing the diversity. That sold it to me. It’s good to be in a company that walks the talk and meet people helping each other as well as seeing women in leadership roles.” 

Empowering all to make the most of our energy and resources.

A supportive culture 

Both female and male employees can benefit from employee resource groups. It allows them to be authentic in the workplace and helps them find more meaning in their work, as well as strengthening bonds between members of the company. Some of the employee resource groups aimed at women at the company cover topics such as imposter syndrome and the menopause.  

There’s also the company’s networking conference that brought Ireland and UK women employees together in an open, safe space to discuss work-life balance, career progression, and more. “Diversity allows different voices in the same room and ensures everyone is respected. That’s why I’m a big advocate for more diversity,” says Moraes. “I also believe STEM and engineering is for anyone. Being an engineer has opened so many doors for me. It provides so many options and opportunities, even if you’re not sure what you want to do.” 

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