March 7, 2024

Celebrating International Women's Day

We chatted with Josi Novais, one of our electrical engineers, about diversity in the workplace and what working in a traditionally male-dominated industry means to her.

Tell us a bit about your career path

I started my professional journey as a design electrical engineer in my first year at university in 2012, dedicating myself to gaining experience throughout my five-year course in Brazil.

I primarily focused on designing electrical systems for high-rise residential and commercial buildings, including site monitoring to ensure the smooth implementation of these designs on-site.

After graduating in December 2016, I faced a decision to either continue my career in Brazil or return to the UK, a place I've always considered a second home. Opting to return to the UK, I began my job hunt, which led me to discover the exciting opportunity at RHB Partnership. I joined the team in February 2017 and have since been part of the RHB family.

At RHB, I've had the privilege of working across diverse sectors within the industry, contributing to creating detailed drawings, specifications, and schedules for various electrical systems. This includes but is not limited to, lighting systems, lighting control, LV and sub-main distribution, lightning protection, fire alarms, CCTV, and access control systems. My time at RHB has been fulfilling, allowing me to grow and thrive in my field continually.

What inspired you to study Electrical Engineering?

From a young age, I found myself inexplicably drawn to engineering. My decision wasn't based on any specific role model or influence; it was a natural fascination that has always been a part of me.

At the core of it all, my inspiration to study electrical engineering lies in my passion for problem-solving and innovation. I always want to find solutions and push boundaries to see what's possible.

I couldn't ignore the fact that Electrical Engineering is often seen as a male-dominated field. This perception led to moments of doubt and sometimes feeling judged for my choice. Stepping into my university and realising I was the only female student in my classroom increased these feelings.

However, instead of letting this discourage me, it only increased my determination as it was an opportunity to contribute to developing greater diversity within the engineering field. My experience could encourage other women to follow this career path, contributing to a more inclusive and representative workforce in the industry.

Who are your female role models?

The women in my family are my inspiration. Witnessing their resilience and courage in overcoming life's challenges has shaped me into a strong and independent woman. Their persistent determination and values have guided me in my personal life and my professional journey. Their love and support have shaped me, reminding me daily of the power of determination and positivity.

What has been your career highlight so far?

One of my career highlights has been achieving success as an engineer in a traditionally male-dominated field while contributing solutions to everyday construction challenges.

Overcoming barriers and paving the way for diversity has been a rewarding aspect of my journey. Working at RHB has provided me with opportunities for personal and professional growth in an inclusive environment where I can thrive as a female engineer.

It's incredibly satisfying to be able to pursue my passion for engineering while simultaneously making meaningful contributions to both the consultancy practice and the broader business landscape.

What are your thoughts on how gender equality is evolving in the workplace, and what are your future aspirations?

I see promising progress in gender equality in the workplace. More women are entering fields historically dominated by one gender, and society is increasingly conscious and supportive of this shift.

I have the privilege of working for an engineering consultancy practice that shares my values. RHB's dedication to fostering a diverse workforce is evident in the presence of other female engineers alongside me. Knowing that I'm not alone in this journey and having other talented women to collaborate with has significantly enriched my experience within the consultancy industry.

We've brought diverse perspectives, leading to more innovative solutions and better client outcomes.

I aspire to encourage young women to break stereotypes, particularly in fields like engineering, creating a more inclusive environment where gender doesn't limit opportunities.

What would your advice to a woman at the start of her career journey be?

Connect, learn, and push forward. Network with professionals, ask questions and always seek knowledge.

Don't let gender stereotypes discourage you. Your passion and skills speak louder than any bias.

Stay determined on your path and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

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