Leading Leidos Women: Inspiring women to enter the industry
International Women in Engineering Day celebrates the women engineers around the world. We have a wealth of extraordinary, inspirational women engineers at Leidos, whose individual and collective successes will have no doubt inspired the next generation.
International Women in Engineering Day presents a timely opportunity for some of our UK employees to reflect on their careers so far.
Dr. Shirley Cavin, Emerging Capabilities Lead, Leidos UK
Dr. Shirley Cavin is the Emerging Capabilities Lead at Leidos in the UK, having joined eight years ago. In this time, Dr. Cavin has worked across a number of different technical roles, from tech lead, development and design manager, as a data scientist manager, and now in her current role – Data and Emerging Capabilities Lead.
Dr. Cavin credits her childhood interest in science and engineering to her dad, whose support for her early passions encouraged her to take up and excel in STEM subjects growing up. A successful early academic career was followed by several degrees in Computing and Engineering, culminating in a MSc and PhD in these areas.
Working in the Emerging Capability team, Dr. Cavin’s role requires her to focus on the growth and development of the Data Capability at Leidos UK. The endless juggling of work required to deliver her role fosters a culture of collaboration which Dr. Cavin believes is an essential part of supporting and delivering for stakeholders.
To young women considering a career in engineering, Dr. Cavin says: “Follow your passion! Technology and engineering are exciting areas to be involved in, never gets boring, it evolves and grows, and there are so many opportunities for everyone. I see a continuous growth of female presence in technology and engineering which is reassuring and hopeful. Together we are changing the views in this sector as feasible areas for women to develop, progress, and deliver results. We need people who are motivated and willing to learn and continue the progress we are currently making.”
Charlotte Moss, Test Analyst, Leidos UK
Charlotte Moss is a Test Analyst at Leidos, having joined in 2018 after working in hospitality management for many years. Charlotte’s first opportunity came when she saw advert for a Trainee Software Tester position at a testing agency, and without any prior IT experience, Charlotte’s curiosity led her to apply.
Pursuing a job in engineering is often associated with having a methodical brain, and Charlotte believes this unique way of thinking has allowed her to embrace the flexibility and problem-solving elements of the job.
Having worked in hospitality for a number of years before entering the world of tech and engineering, Charlotte is keen to stress that young women shouldn’t be put off by what they see as barriers to entry. “You don’t need an engineering degree to get into the industry – if you don’t have a formal qualification don’t let that put you off. There are lots of opportunities to get into this industry through a variety of programmes and courses.”
Katherine Lorimer, Database Administrator, Leidos UK
Katherine Lorimer is a Database Administrator at Leidos, having worked in tech for 18 years. Katherine studied Business and Marketing at degree level before finding her specialism during a Post Grad Diploma in IT with Web Development.
Like Charlotte, Katherine was drawn to her job through a love of problem solving and the capacity to take an analytical approach to everything she does. This approach lends itself well to an evolving industry full of technical challenges.
However, these are essential qualities for pursuing a job in engineering where diversity of thought is held in high regard. Katherine says: “Be yourself, believe in yourself, ask questions, communicate, learn from others, be confident, it’s rewarding – get involved!”
Edna McIntyre, Analyst Developer, Scottish Parliament
Originally from Brazil, Edna works as Analyst Developer in the Scottish Parliament. Edna, despite her young age, has already enjoyed a successful career in IT, having gained experience in different parts of the industry, from computer networks, testing, applications support, to what she does now – developing software.
A lifelong fascination and urge to deconstruct bits of technology and put them back together made a life in tech a natural choice for Edna. Despite the many challenges Edna encountered when trying to forge her own career, she’s taken each one in her stride, adding that they are what has driven her to succeed. Working for the Scottish Parliament, there are incredibly high standards and expectations which need to be met, which presents its own challenges.
Edna’s view is that the obstacles and challenges that exist shouldn’t be enough to put anyone off pursuing what they want to do. “Go for it! The industry is a tough but rewarding one for women to succeed in. Be yourself and bring your experience and competencies to the table, as these are, and will be, very valuable to those around you and any organisation who have the privilege to employ you.”
Joanna Devine, Software Engineer, Leidos UK
Joanna joined Leidos as part of its Graduate Programme in 2019. Joining right before the pandemic brings a whole new host of challenges on top of being a new joiner, but Joanna didn’t let this deter her from growing into the role.
The constantly changing aspect of the computing landscape was something that Joanna found interesting, giving her the knowledge that there would always be new products being developed and new knowledge to absorb. Like many graduates, Joanna didn’t have any experience of cloud computing or automation tools before joining Leidos. Joanna credits her belief that the ‘best way to learn is to do’ with having gotten through the overwhelming exposure to new ideas and disciplines.
Despite starting without any of this knowledge, Joanna says the satisfaction of standing up a service with a code she’d written was the best experience of her job so far. “Watching it run through the pipeline and each stage being a success was a great feeling. Starting from scratch with something and then taking it right to completion was a very rewarding feeling.”
Beyond this, Joanna believes the support she’s received while working in a team of people that are willing to help her has been integral to her enjoyment of the job. Having excelled in her relatively brief career, Joanna recognises the need to attract more young women into engineering. “I would strongly advise any women who have an interest in a career in engineering to go for it. We really need more women in the field and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go after this career if it’s what interests you. Although females are outnumbered in this field, I believe that makes every female engineer that bit more unique and special which is definitely a positive.”
Aisling Doyle, Graduate Civil Engineer, Transport Scotland/Scottish Government
Aisling Doyle has been working as a Graduate Civil Engineer at Transport Scotland since 2018. At the moment, Aisling has been seconded to work on site at Woodside Viaduct on a bridge repair project north of Glasgow city centre.
Before Aisling even knew what Civil Engineering was, she was encouraged at the age of 16 to see a Career Guidance Councillor before choosing her subjects for her state exams. Like many others, it was the problem-solving aspect which appealed to Aisling. Having been given the encouragement she needed to explore the breadth of opportunities available within the Civil Engineering space, Aisling chose to study the subject at university.
Working for Transport Scotland has allowed Aisling to move around and see lots of different projects and processes within the business. The flexibility and the freedom which the job has afforded Aisling forms part of her advice for those interested in pursuing a similar career path. “I try to live the Richard Branson quote ‘if someone offers you an amazing opportunity, say yes, then figure out how to do it’. So just try it but if you don’t enjoy a job you’re in you have so many transferrable skills, you have a wealth of choice in other areas of the industry to choose from.”