The 23rd of June marks International Women in Engineering Day. To celebrate this, we'd like to present you the personal stories of 3 of our women engineers at BESIX. First up: Marie, Senior Project Manager Design at the BESIX Engineering Department.
I have always wanted to become a pilot. I started flying gliders at the age of 15 and by the time I was 16, I could fly on my own. However, I quickly realised that doing this professionally, would not be all it’s cracked up to be and pilots advised me to take off only in my spare time. So as a way to combine my passion for both planes and engineering, I got into the aeronautical industry.
During my engineering studies, I did a 3-months summer internship at Airbus in France. From my desk in Toulouse, I had a great view on a construction site of a factory. Impressed with the site’s weekly progression and scale, which was in big contrast with the slow-paced and micro-sized work environment of aeronautics, it all fell into place for me. I wanted to experience the dynamic and large-scale side of construction!
From there on, BESIX was an easy match. I knew I wanted to be part of an international entrepreneur, and the centralised engineering department truly convinced me. Finding both action and calculation in a variety of projects… in Belgium it’s really a no-brainer: there are few companies who offer that.
When I arrived ten years ago, there was only one other female engineer. Since then, the department has grown exponentially and become an interesting mix of people. Not only in gender, but also in cultures, backgrounds, etc. It really adds to the dynamic nature of the company. And specifically, as a mom of soon three children, it’s nice to see more working mothers represented and more men taking up other roles than purely professional ones. You understand each other better.
The most exciting project to date I had the opportunity to work on, is no doubt the Grand Stadium of the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) in Paris. As “little Belgians” among the big French competitors, we were definitely the underdogs to win this contract. It was a fascinating year of weekly meetings with the parties concerned, engineering workshops, etc. to find out how to tackle this showpiece technically. We cracked our brains trying to design & build the sliding open roof, moving grass pitch, etc. but it was so satisfying to see how we succeeded in gaining little by little the client’s and architects’ trust and eventually win the contract. At the end, the client decided not to realise the project, but it didn’t cast a shadow over the great victory.
What would I be if I hadn’t become an engineer? Probably something related with aircrafts. Then again, I still would get bored, so it’s safe to say that, for me, engineering is the most thrilling job in the world.