Atkins

Mining for Leaders Series

Q: Tell us a little about your education and your work experience and how that has shaped where you are in your career today. 

A: I’ve been working at SNC-Lavalin’s Brussels office for the past 10 years. In fact, it’s the first place where I’ve worked. I started as a Process Engineer within a seasoned Process team. I’ve had the opportunity to accrue extensive experience on how various types of projects evolve in several fields, particularly phosphoric acid and biochemistry. 

I gradually gained more autonomy and was promoted to Project Manager, then to Project Engineer and, finally, to Manager, Business Development. As part of my current role, I realize now how much of my experience early on in my career plays such a huge role in my day-to-day activities, as I had to learn about all facets of project management. Today, I essentially have two key roles: BD and project engineering. Continuing to work on projects enables me to stay abreast of evolving work methods, as well as incorporate these in the BD part of my job.

As well, when it comes to business development, it really helps to know what we’re selling to be able to showcase our expertise in specialized sectors, such as fertilizer. 

I’ve always had a knack for communication and love working in a team. Since the Brussels office is relatively small, effective communication is particularly important. 

Q: Who are your role models, male or female, and why?

A: I’m inspired by a few historical figures, such as female scientists like Marie Curie and, more recently, Simone Veil, who passed away last year. She was a lawyer and politician, and was appointed as France’s Minister of Health. Things must have been very challenging for them at the time. While I haven’t suffered as much as they did for their careers,

I would also add gynecologist, Denis Mukwege, and former captive of the Islamic State, Nadia Murad, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for their fight to end sexual violence. To this end, I also donate regularly to the PLAN Foundation, whose mission is to foster and finance young girls’ education so they can take care of themselves. Education is really a key factor in changing attitudes and moving society forward.

And of course, I have family role models! We are Vietnamese and my grandparents had a very traditional mindset: my grandmother has never worked outside the home, but my grandfather always told us: “Go to school. Be independent, my dear girl!” He was kind of a forward thinker back then. 

My parents had a relatively balanced lifestyle: my father did the ironing and picked us up after school. Since my mom worked further away, household chores were divided between them and things were far from automatic. However, my father never cooked. I think I take after him in that regard!

Q: What piece of advice would you give to young women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

A: First off, you need to be competent in your job. You can’t just assume that negative feedback you get from your peers or superiors is based solely on gender. You should accept it as constructive criticism in order to grow and improve. 

Always take a step back and ask yourself: “Are there any issues with my work? How can I improve?” 

"It’s important to keep believing in yourself and be proud of the work you do. This will help keep you motivated."  

“We want you to lead. Our teams are agile, collaborative and driven by opportunity. Wherever you are in your career, we have a structure of support and training to help you develop what you need to succeed.”
Atkins Global Careers
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