From her early love of motorbikes to her career today – as a mechanical engineer, STEM ambassador, and blogger of The Female Engineer – there was plenty to talk about in this inspiring conversation between Emilie and Head, Mr Darren Payne.
With a big smile and her trademark eyeliner, Emilie’s warmth and positive energy is infectious. Going back to the start line of her story, Emilie was born into a motorsport-mad family where her passion for bikes was naturally cultivated from a young age. “I used to spend hours going round the roads of Shropshire on the back of mum’s bike”, Emilie laughed.
Her parents always had bikes in the garage where she enjoyed many hours of tinkering on various woodwork projects with her dad. “If you enjoy taking things apart and putting things back together, it’s definitely a sign you want to be an engineer!” Her grandad was also a significant influence having rode in the motorcycle Grand Prix in the 1950s and a corner at the TT on the Isle of Man named after him.
Emilie’s love for tinkering continued in her primary school years in the Design & Technology department. “I used to come home with all sorts of wooden contraptions from a really young age that really sparked the hands-on side.” At the age of 11 and with her sights already set, Emilie wrote a letter to her mum saying that she wanted to become Valentino Rossi’s Crew Chief. Emilie feels grateful for the teaching she went on to receive at Shrewsbury High School, where she developed strong Maths and Science skills and the ability to be analytical, curious, organised and disciplined.
“It’s kind of the beauty of knowing you don’t commit to one track, and that’s what you’ve got to do for the rest of your life.”
Emilie emphasised the benefits of the variety of spheres the engineering industry has to offer. Initially, she felt limited by the role she had chosen but then realised it was easy to pivot between different areas of the industry. Admitting to “itchy feet” with a chuckle she said, “It’s kind of the beauty of knowing you don’t commit to one track, and that’s what you’ve got to do for the rest of your life.”
Emilie Weaving’s Top Tips
- Consider an engineering degree apprenticeship as it provides a first hand look at what’s involved and teaches the invaluable skills to succeed, even if you change specialism, all whilst being paid for.
2. Use being a woman to your advantage. You are naturally going to stand out for that promotion which you can use to motivate yourself.
3. Don’t dwell on something being your final decision.
4. Realise that getting out of your comfort zone can really help you in the future. Emilie pushed herself to do Key Notes in front of lots of people, which in turn helped her with job interviews.
5. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Emilie was invited to an open day for a racing team and the organisation she worked for wouldn’t give her the day off. She took her chances and quit, and ended up landing her next big role.
“Definitely don’t let the numbers put you off – I’ve had some absolutely amazing male allies who have really supported me and never made me feel any different.”
Darren went on to ask Emilie about the male female divide in the engineering industry. “There’s a long way to go,” she said honestly, “with 16.5% of engineers being female.” The real issue, she told us, is that very few women currently sit in leadership positions. There’s hope yet though, as Emilie shared her confidence that things are moving in the right direction with many of her peers joining the industry in their 20s and 30s. “Definitely don’t let the numbers put you off – I’ve had some absolutely amazing male allies who have really supported me and never made me feel any different.”
“Just keep chasing those dreams that you’ve got in your head… because even if you don’t get exactly where you wanted to, you’re going to have a heck of a lot of fun getting there!”
One of the stand-out moments for Emilie so far was having the opportunity to meet MotoGP star Jon Hopkins whilst working for the British Superbike Championships. An inspirational role model from her childhood, she described it as a real ‘full circle moment’ in her career.
Bringing the conversation to a close, Emilie was asked what would she would tell her 10 year old self knowing what she knows today, to which she replied, “Just keep chasing those dreams that you’ve got in your head… because even if you don’t get exactly where you wanted to, you’re going to have a heck of a lot of fun getting there!”
Watch the full conversation with Emilie below
The GDST In Conversation With… Series
The In Conversation With… series showcases GDST alumnae succeeding in a variety of fields, talking about a range of interesting topics for the benefit of current students, parents, and other members of the GDST community.More from In Conversation With...