S T E M + D I V E R S I T Y + C O L L A B O R A T I O N | S U M M E R 2 0 2 1
WOMEN IN STEM
Featured Stories of Leading Ladies in STEM
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Sometimes all we need are examples of the possibilities. Re.engineer is an inclusive community of STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) professionals that collaborate and share solutions. Our mission is to bridge the skills gap between professionals at all levels, and our professional development opportunities help our community members to achieve success in their careers. We were created to serve as a platform for all STEM professionals to share and leverage value. stem+ diversity + collaboration The efforts to increase the percentage of Black STEM professionals in industry have been outstanding, however since the start of the new millennium the number of students that actually graduate with STEM degrees have been declining. We hope to solve this problem by inspiring minority students to pursue STEM careers and by providing resources to those who have already begun their journey. See Possible.
Anyone can research our database of professional stories and connect with other people in hopes of developing collaborative relationships. We want to take the stress out of professional development by providing a bridge between developing and senior level professionals.
Enjoy and continue living like there is [no box]!
Editor-in-Chief SHADRACH S T EPHENS
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IMPOSTER SYNDROME So What If You Fail?
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Even if you fail, your failure will be boring. So What If You "Fail"? I N C L U S I O N
industry, academia, and government. But instead of recognizing the flawed system that often incorrectly rewards those in the majority, we internalize this disrespect and assume that there must be something wrong with us. Everyone fails at something at some time because people are imperfect. WE SHOULD NEVER ALLOW THIS OR OTHER’S OPINIONS OF US TO SHAPE HOW WE FEEL ABOUT OURSELVES. But so what if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. It does not mean anything besides you need to try again. It is not indicative of your abilities overall and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. It means your efforts at this particular moment in time, may not meet current expectations. It should not be a judgment of your abilities or character, especially when there may be underlying forces at work beyond your control. When men “fail”, they often assume “it’s not me, it’s them”. We need to adapt our view of ourselves to be more confident and self- assured like theirs.
The concept of the Imposter Syndrome is based on someone feeling like a failure, despite the outward appearance of professional success. It has gained so much attention recently, with many who say they feel unworthy of the accomplishments they have achieved in their careers. Of course, some people may be dealing with personal trauma unrelated to their profession that causes these feelings as well. As women, especially those of color, it is not unusual that society would cause us to feel a sense of failure for our work, when it is the same level of expertise that many white men frequently receive praise for. Anyone would feel like a fraud if their contributions were always put down or minimized. Constantly being overlooked
and undervalued will destroy even the highest self-esteem over time. If one’s sense of value is regularly met with apathy and doubt by one’s colleagues, it’s quite natural to feel undeserving when we are finally recognized. Despite 50+ years of laudable performance in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, Black women in corporate leadership are still very much a rarity. And it’s not for a lack of talent either, as recent National Science Foundation (NSF) estimates more than 25,000 of us graduate in these fields every year. These issues are systemic and pervasive throughout
Feeling like an imposter is nothing more than acceptance of other’s negative belief of you
INSTE A D OF RECOGNIZING THE FL A WED SYSTEM TH A T OFTEN INCORRECTLY REW A RDS THOSE IN THE M A JORITY , WE INTERN A LIZE THIS DISRESPECT A ND A SSUME TH A T THERE MUST BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH US .
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who do not know your journey or challenges. It is a false assumption that puts the onus on women, instead of the people who are actually responsible for this. Almost every week, there is another company in the news being sued for harassment and discrimination, and many workplaces are still not psychologically safe for women or people of color. Women would not feel like frauds if people didn’t tell us and treat us like we were. Can we get rid of this pointless notion of Imposter Syndrome?
when folks attempt to impose their critique of your talent on you. If you are failing, you are at least trying. And as President Roosevelt famously said, it is not the critic who counts anyway… “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt, Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 ▪
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It is not rocket science; when people feel threatened by your success, they oftentimes try to minimize your work, which can lead to thoughts of being unworthy. Let’s instead recognize “IMPOSER Syndrome”
Stronger Together: The role of male allies in pursuit of gender equality
BLACK WOMEN IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING
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We have created a platform and space to share career experiences and best practices.
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The BWISE mission is to empower Black Women through career and entrepreneurial development, insight and training. While the BWISE vision is to significantly impact the diversity of the STEM pipeline, both corporate and academic, from beginning to end.
P A SSION - FIRST EDUC A TION IS THE FUTURE .
Naomi Thomas LEARN
Meet Naomi Thomas, an extraordinary visionary and founder of several tech brands. She is gamifying and incentivizing the learning experience while helping brands meet students where they are at and through the industries they know and love.
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Black Women In STEM Examples of the possibilities.
2018-2020 and has a talent hub of 25+ creatives for client projects. Throughout college, Naomi worked with Google as a Student Ambassador and with Noregon Systems Inc. as an IT Intern and Digital Marketing Analyst. At the same time, she remained active in the startup scene and placed in several competitions including the WBENC National Student Entrepreneurship Program in Austin, Texas and she also won the UNCG’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. As President of UNCG’s STARS Computing Corps, she founded a nonprofit project called MyTechLife which introduced hands-on educational technology to K-12 students. During the Fall of 2015, she raised $30,000 to hold fun and informative events in Greensboro, NC. Naomi has been honored as Charlotte's Top 30 under 30, 2018 and is extremely passionate about using her voice and past experiences as a guide to help encourage other young women and minorities to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Your favorite industries , but make it tech . Learn tech skills while earning prizes from the brands you love .
Naomi Thomas is an entrepreneur and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. She is the Founder and CEO of The STEM Station, an edtech company building inclusive experiences in STEM. Their product, Beyond, is a platform where students learn technical skills while earning prizes from their favorite brands. Naomi’s journey began at 6 years old when she built her first computer. She explored the STEM fields by enrolling in the LEAD Computer Science Institutes at UC Berkeley and The University of Virginia. In high school, Naomi learned HTML and started a web design company. This venture continued throughout college until it evolved into Boss Business Market, a digital marketing agency that has served public figures and global brands reaching millions of users a week. Under her leadership, BB Market grew by 800% in revenue from NAOMI THOMAS | LEARN BEYOND
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Q: You’ve had an amazing career thus far, stretching from Tech to Fashion to Marketing. What was the defining moment that inspired you to become an advocate for increasing more diverse representation in STEM? Naomi: My journey in STEM began at 6 years old when I built my first computer. My parents saw how fascinated I was about technology and enrolled me in several women in engineering workshops/camps throughout high school. My faves were the LEAD Computer Science Institutes at UC Berkeley and UVA where I spent a month at the college campuses. During these trips, I had the opportunity to visit various tech company offices. One thing for certain about the tech industry is that their work environments really take care of you. For example, Google has free food every 150 feet, a bowling alley, massage rooms, and you can even bring your dog to work! Although these perks were enough to make anyone want to work for these companies, I was really caught off guard about one thing. Diversity. As I toured Silicon Valley, I noticed there were very few employees that looked like me. I started to feel isolated and intimidated. I did a little research and discovered the alarming statistics around representation of women and minorities in tech. Silicon valley tech companies have employed an average of only 5% of black, hispanic, and indigenous talent. From this point on, I was determined to help improve the numbers. Q: At Re.engineer, we believe in challenging the status quo. How are you applying your entrepreneurial passion to addressing needs around the world? Naomi: In order to make the industry more equitable, products must be intentionally created for all users that they serve, and not just some. This means that talent from all backgrounds are needed in those rooms making their voices heard. The issue is, many tech learning programs aren’t made with
IN ORDER TO M A KE THE INDUSTRY MORE EQUIT A BLE , PRODUCTS MUST BE INTENTION A LLY CRE A TED FOR A LL USERS TH A T IT SERVES , A ND NOT JUST SOME .
underrepresented students in mind. In fact, ⅓ of minority students leave STEM majors. Diversity in STEM begins with inclusivity in education. Q: What is the most difficult decision you've had to make to pursue your destiny? Naomi: I started a web design company in college and it evolved into a Boss Business Market, a digital marketing agency that has served leaders and brands globally. I did not
work for anyone after college so that I could pursue entrepreneurship, so I made a huge sacrifice financially. My life would have looked very different with the stability of corporate income. If I were to go back, I probably still would not have traded the opportunity to have freedom and creativity because I accomplished so much through my own experiences and made an effort to learn the skills needed to grow my business exponentially.
Celebrate your wins along the way no matter how small.
Q: We believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we navigate as business and community leaders. We call it “Bringing Our Whole Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work? It’s so important for me that I choose to work on projects that complement my interests and values. I am authentic when I am truly passionate about the work and impact that I am making. I refuse to involve myself in anything that doesn’t align, even if I lose out on making money. It is also my responsibility to bring my best self to work, so I don’t beat myself up for taking a necessary break or going on a fun trip to clear my head. Q: What advice would you give to young professionals or students? You should be able to enjoy the process just as much as the success. If I were to go back, I would have probably taken things a little more slowly to avoid burnout. I’m so passionate about goals I set, and get immersed in whatever I’m working on to the point that my health, friendships, and relationships have T R E N D I N G L E A D E R S
set up workstations for new employees. I remember being one of only six women out of over one hundred employees (we each had our own bathroom stall), but I am so glad I didn’t quit or decline the opportunity based on my initial knowledge and assumptions of the role. I am so proud of myself for taking the time to learn because I knew I was capable of achieving anything I set my mind to. I was eventually promoted from my summer internship to a part-time job throughout the school year. Q: What keeps you up at night? (Although I do value a good night's rest) I have many thoughts that are consistently on top of mind. One being generational wealth. I have always admired my parent’s work ethic and dedication to supporting their children. My mom has been the biggest support system in my life. She made sure I had the equipment and resources needed to be successful, and most importantly, the encouragement to keep going. I will forever be grateful for that. I frequently think of my future kids and ways that I can position them to thrive in the best way. ▪ Photography by Berto "TPG" Horne
Q: A recent survey of ours identified that the #1 reason why there is a decline in minority representation in STEM is related to Imposter Syndrome. Have you experienced this barrier and if so, how did you overcome it? I have overcome many obstacles while working in STEM as a black woman, but some of the biggest battles I’ve faced have been mentally, with myself. Dealing with imposter syndrome is challenging and there is a constant feeling of too much competition, and the need to stay on top of fast-changing trends. It involves plenty of over-thinking as well as second guessing yourself and your potential. For example, my first internship was for a software development company that created technology for truck maintenance. I had no clue what I was getting into – I’m surprised I even passed the interview because I didn’t have answers to any of the questions the team was asking me. But, I was honest with them and told them I was willing to learn. They hired me. I prepared by watching YouTube videos and absorbing as much information as possible. The first day on the job, I was instructed to create cat5 cables, rewire server rooms and suffered. Now, I approach life differently and am intentional with balancing self care and hard work. Celebrate your wins along the way no matter how small.
"Being Humble is to be felt, it's not something that you show off". Here at Silent Success we believe that "Moving in Silence" is the key to succession", Pierre Dupre.
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In pursuing my destiny, I continuously have to learn to be uncomfortable and learn that it is okay to be uncomfortable.
Beryl Davis is a Principal Electrical Engineer at Raytheon Technologies. Beryl has been with Raytheon for 13 years. In her current role, Beryl supports sustainment of complex electronic systems, units, and modules and leads a team responsible for maintaining mission capability while prioritizing affordability across the Operations and Support phase. Previously, Beryl has worked as a Reliability and System Safety Engineering Section Manager in the Whole Life Engineering Department for over four years. Beryl received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA and a Master’s degree in Systems Engineering and Management from the University of Texas at Dallas. Beryl maintains active involvement in the BERYL DAVIS | LIVE YOUR DREAMS
community. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., whose purpose is “Service to All Mankind”. Beryl is a charter member of the Omega Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and has served as a Bylaws committee member, as the Public Relations Chair and as the Nominating Committee Chair. Beryl volunteers with her Sorority and various Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) events. Beryl is a big advocate of promoting STEM to the youth and to minorities. Beryl is active in her church home of St. Jude in Allen, TX, volunteering as a Eucharistic Minister and as a Lector. Beryl is an active member of her neighborhood HOA, serving as Treasurer for over 4 years. Aside from her job and volunteerism, Beryl enjoys fitness, travel, shopping, spending time with her family and yorkie, and dance.
I H A VE BEEN F A SCIN A TED WITH STEM EVER SINCE I W A S LITTLE GIRL . IN F A CT , IT IS INGR A INED IN ME WITH A CHEMISTRY TE A CHER FOR A MOM A ND A N A CCOUNT A NT FOR A D A D . THEY ENCOUR A GED MY SISTERS A ND ME TO BE A CTIVELY INVOLVED IN STEM A T SCHOOL . WHETHER IT W A S M A TH CLUB , SCIENCE CLUB , FIELD TRIPS TO THE MUSEUM OR P A RTICIP A TING IN SCIENCE F A IRS , WE WERE THERE !
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work. The third was applying to graduate school, understanding that, although temporary, it would be a sacrifice of my personal time. Finally, it was choosing to change careers in 2021. You have to leave the comfort of familiarity in order to pursue your destiny. Q: We believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we navigate as business and community leaders. We call it “Bringing Our Authentic Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work? In order to be authentic to yourself and to your work, it is key to have strong work beliefs in any role. In order to develop these beliefs one needs self-awareness, and self-awareness is developed by audit- ing oneself. For me, my audit came from doing 360 assessments, reading leadership books, seeking feedback, participating in leadership development programs and taking personality tests, leadership assessments, and strengths assessments. Once I had a firm grasp on my person- ality, leadership style, strengths and emotional intelligence, as well as an understanding of the broad assortment of others, I developed confidence being my true authentic self. Coupled with this, I am transparent, honest and I allow myself to make mistakes, grow and learn. Q. What advice would you give to students and young professionals? Pick up a book, read, write, take a class, research, shadow those who inspire you, seek feedback, apply to programs and always strive to learn. SEIZE A LL OPPORTUNITIES TO BETTER YOURSELF . DO NOT SPEND YOUR TIME OFF IDLY .
LET'S CHOP IT UP! Q: You have an amazing career thus far, from achieving numerous awards for your work in STEM and to most recently being honored as a Southern University 40 under Forty alumni. What was the defining moment that inspired you to become a STEM professional? Beryl: I have been fascinated with STEM ever since I was little girl. In fact, it is engrained in me with a Chemistry Teacher for a mom and an Accountant for a dad. They encouraged my sisters and me to be actively involved in STEM at school. Whether it was math club, science club, field trips to the museum or participating in science fairs, we were there! Solving problems using the scientific method has always fascinated me. It fosters a natural curiosity and provides a methodical way to solve many issues. Q: What did you gain the most from your HBCU experience? Beryl: Attending an HBCU provided a solid foundation for my career. In addition to a quality STEM education, I was able to drive cultural confidence in who I am and establish high expectations for success Q: What is the most difficult decision you've had to make to pursue your destiny? Beryl: In pursuing my destiny, I continuously have to learn to be uncomfortable and learn that it is okay to be uncomfortable. To grow and pursue opportunities meant leaving comfort zones. There are four distinct times leaving comfort zones that come to mind. First, fighting through homesickness to finish my undergraduate degree. My father passed away in the middle of my junior year. I wanted to remain close to loved ones at home after, but I understood I had to finish my degree, and that my father would have wanted me to finish. Second, was applying to a manager position at work, trying to overcome “imposter syndrome” and adding more to my plate at
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Q: A recent survey of ours identified that the #1 reason why there is a decline in minority representation in STEM is related to Imposter Syndrome. Have you experienced this barrier and if so, how did you overcome it? Beryl: I absolutely have experienced imposter syndrome. I did not realize it until I attended a workshop at my job on Imposter Syndrome. I overcome it, daily, by first, recognizing what it is. From there, I do not allow myself to have self-sabotaging thoughts, and I reframe my thinking to more positive thoughts. If there is something I do not know, “I think to myself, how can you fill that gap? I can always identify a resource who knows this thing.” Then, I go utilize that resource. I A LSO A LLOW MYSELF GR A CE , A S I A M ONLY HUM A N A ND NO HUM A N C A N M A STER IT A LL . Finally, I continuously seek feedback from my managers, peers and mentors. I look for areas to improve, but I also seek feedback on my strengths. Q. What keeps you up at night? Doing a great job within the constraint of 24 hours keeps me up at night. As we all know, problem-solving can span a large number of days, week, months and even years. In the midst of problem solving, I often keep thinking toward a solution, well beyond work hours. When I do manage to get to sleep, I continue to problem solve in my sleep. The cool thing about this; however, is that I can honestly say I have dreamt up solutions! ▪
F e a t u r e d o n t h e D r . O z a n d M e r e d i t h V i e i r a S h o w s , C N N , a n d m o r e . D r . R o i s t h e g o - t o r e s o u r c e f o r m e d i a g i a n t s w h o t r u s t h e r u n i q u e b r a n d o f h e a l t h a n d n u t r i t i o n i n f o r m a t i o n . A u d i e n c e s l o v e h e r r e l a t a b l e p e r s o n a l i t y , w h i c h s h e
u s e s t o m a k e c o m p l e x n u t r i t i o n i n f o r m a t i o n a p a l a t a b l e a n d f u n e x p e r i e n c e f o r a l l .
F I N A N C I A L L I T E R A C Y
INVESTMENT PLANNING Investment planning is the way to transform your savings into a steady stream of income which could ultimately lead you to financial freedom. Whether it’s stocks, real estate, or a combination of both you must first identify your risk tolerance, resources, skills, and short & long-term goals.
EDUCATIONAL PLANNING An education is one of the most important things you can give your children. In addition to the need to pay for tuition and classes, it’s important to start planning early. Knowing different strategies and options will help best in this category. The 529 plan is most commonly known, but there are other more flexible ways. TAX PLANNING Taxes are an unavoidable fact of life, but you can reduce your tax bill by knowing the ins and outs of the tax code. Avoid common mistakes that drive you to over-estimating your tax liability. Learn and take advantage of the different tax credits and deductions. The less you pay in taxes, the more you'll have to invest. Investors and business owners are known for getting many tax breaks and incentives. Not only that, but we take advantage of tax free money buy leveraging against assets, instead of liquidating. ASSET PROTECTION It is important to establish a protective trust or limited liability company in order to protect assets from loss. The key to this is planning ahead and making sure you research how best to set up your assets, for optimal protection. ESTATE PLANNING If you want to minimize wealth loss due to unnecessary estate administration expenses, taxes, delays and family disputes, you must pay careful attention to the estate planning regulations that affect you. It’s important to ensure that your family members not only get what they need to run their day lives but also are set up to keep the investments compounding for many generations. The path to wealth always starts with the belief you can be wealthy… no matter what your circumstances. Take the initiative and learn different perspectives. Follow me @jhanelwilson for more unconventional ways of achieving financial freedom. ▪
Holistic Wealth Management Begins with Financial Literacy JHANEL WILSON Starting out on your financial journey, it’s important to remind yourself of these facts. Financial literacy is incredibly important. It can help prevent financial mistakes, earn more money than you think possible, and build wealth that lasts generations. Having a holistic approach to your finances, you not only ensure all of your bases are covered - preventing loss, but also putting yourself in position to take advantage of compounding returns to reach your long term goals. Here are the financial pillars you need to support your finances. A weakness in one, has the possibility to derail them all. Learn and master each one, and you’ll be on your way to financial freedom, at a young age.
DEBT AND LOAN MANAGEMENT When it comes to loans and debt management, it’s wise to regularly review all your loans and credit cards. Know when and how to refinance and restructure loan for better financing terms and interest rates and always pay attention to fees. Knowing different strategies and various options helps you be fully prepared to take on leverage which exponentially increases returns in your chosen investment path. INSURANCES Insurance planning (health, life, car, home, umbrella) helps to protect you, your family, and your assets. To start, analyze the risk factors you are exposed to, quantify your possible financial loss and identify the necessary insurance products for your needs. Make sure you are not over insured, paying too much for anything is considered a loss. RETIREMENT PLANNING Retirement planning is a process that considers your current financial situation, future income, expenses and deciding the appropriate vehicle to fund your future lifestyle. Planning now will allow you to reap the benefits of compound interest as there is time for your money to work for you instead of having you working for it, or someone else.
Jhanel Wilson is a chemical engineer turned real estate investor and entrepreneur. As the founder and CEO of The Savvy REI, she shares her 17+ years of personal strategies and hard lessons to help people understand, master and succeed with real estate investing.
Photography by Kia Caldwell
Den i se Gu i l l ory STEM & D i ve r s i ty Advocate | Ret i r ed Fo r tune 100 Manufactu r i ng Leade r
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because members were expected to maintain an excellent GPA, to become campus leaders, and to engage in community public service projects. Denise accepted the challenge. She later became the chapter president and saw this as an opportunity to sharpen her leadership skills in a safe environment. She also had two internship assignments with General Motors Assembly Division in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as a part of their scholarship program and she interned with Alcoa Aluminum Company in Rockdale, Texas. Upon graduating from PVAMU in December 1985 with a BSEE degree (Cum Laude), she started working for The Dow Chemical Company as an entry level instrumentation engineer in the Engineering & Construction Services Division (Houston, Texas). She stepped into her first people leadership role 5 years later when a forward-thinking influential Dow leader decided to mentor her. This leader was also very supportive when she decided to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree, while working full time. Denise graduated in 1993 from the University of St. Thomas with an MBA. Over the years, she continued to grow professionally with leadership roles in Purchasing, Maintenance, Engineering, Mergers & Acquisitions and Human Resources. She also became a Six Sigma Certified Black Belt and led several complex human resources projects that impacted the global manufacturing organization. One of her most challenging assignments was Human Resources Business Partner on a complex joint venture project with Dow and Saudi Aramco, two very different companies on a journey to safely design, engineer, build and startup the world’s largest integrated chemical complex (Jubail City, Saudi Arabia) ever built in a single phase.
This would be the last and the most gratifying project that she worked on prior to retiring in August 2014. What a great way to end a 29-year career! Over her career, she remained passionate about contributing to diversity efforts and led several teams. She represented Dow on the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering and the Gulf Coast Alliance for Minorities in Engineering. She was the first implementation leader of Dow’s African American Network. She was a long-term member of the Dow- NSBE strategy team and enjoyed recruiting at NSBE’s annual national convention, in addition to recruiting at her alma mater. Denise also enjoyed mentoring young engineers and sharing her career journey. Today, seven years post retirement, Denise is still passionate about showing young African American girls that they too can have a successful STEM career! She enjoys traveling, attending concerts and theatre productions, rooting on her Houston sports teams, a delicious homemade pound cake, Zumba and spending time with family and friends who bring her joy!
DENISE GUILLORY | STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Denise Guillory is a native of Houston, Texas who graduated in 1981 with honors from Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in the Houston Independent School District. Prior to her senior year, she was going to pursue a career as a pharmacist, like her favorite aunt. However, during a conversation with her best friend’s uncle, who worked at NASA, a seed was planted for her to pursue a career in engineering. She immediately knew Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) was the ideal college for her to attend because of its’ excellent reputation for producing productive engineers. While attending PVAMU in 1981- 1985, she was one of very few females walking the halls of the engineering building. She was very active on campus with several organizations, i.e., the Student Government Association, Institute of Electrical, Electronic Engineers, Tau Beta Pi and was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges & Universities. In her sophomore year, she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The bar was set extremely high for excellence in this Delta chapter
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Q: What are some of more memorable, formative moments in your professional journey? Denise: I can describe these moments as “book ends”. I was fortunate to have a great leader at the beginning of my career, who mentored and promoted me to my first people leadership role, after only 5 years with Dow. This leader was a 40’ish White male, who was “woke” long
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before this term was mainstream. He appreciated that I had brown skin, hair with gold highlights, very outspoken and was comfortable in my own skin. And he recognized that I could be a valuable contributor to the Dow team. The other book end is the last 5 years of my career and working on a once in a lifetime project. I met so many employees and their families as part of my HR role to support their relocation to Saudi Arabia. I learned so much about different cultures. I still recall my first business trip to Saudi in 2011, where I was one of the first women to walk the sand dunes (camels in the background) of this now giant chemical complex. You attended the historic Prairie View A&M University during a time when the percentage of Engineering degrees earned by African American women were on the rise. Q: What did you gain the most from your experience by attending a HBCU? Denise: Attending PVAMU was one of the absolute best decisions I made in my life. The campus culture was family- oriented and supportive. I had a strong connection with my professors, who genuinely cared about my success. They poured so much into my education. In addition to the great education I received, I gained life-long friends, sorority sisters who still today will support me and are my biggest cheerleaders. Q: Which qualities and strengths helped you to excel in manufacturing the most? First, you should know that I am the oldest of three children and my parents expected me to “do the right thing” and to be the example for my younger siblings. So, the bar was set high for me to always give
100% effort and to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. These qualities are timeless and transferable. I’m very organized and know that “the devil is always in the details”, so when leading projects, I was very good at asking a lot of questions, seeking out subject matter experts and not assuming I had all of the answers. I believe this strength made me a better team leader and/or member. Still today in retirement, I use my project management skills when planning trips, outings, etc. I’m a checklist kind of girl. Also, I was very responsive when someone would call me or send an email. Even when I didn’t have an immediate response to their request, I would at least acknowledge their call or email and would let them know when I would have an answer. I wanted to build a reputation of being dependable. Q: What was the most difficult decision you've had to make in your career? Honestly, it was to change the direction of my manufacturing career and to accept a role in Human Resources. At the beginning, on some days I felt like “a fish out of water”. But this move led to me becoming a Six Sigma Certified Black Belt, working on exciting mergers and acquisitions, leading workforce planning for manufacturing and ultimately working on an exciting joint venture project that became my swan song. I’m so grateful I stepped out of my comfort zone! Q: I am curious to know, if you could go back in time, what is one thing that you would change about STEM or the manufacturing culture? Wow, this is a very thought- provoking question!
I ' M SO GR A TEFUL I STEPPED OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE !
I’m not sure if it is the same today,
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Q: What advice would you give to young African American girls or those who are curious about STEM, but not sure that they can do it, or parents who are reading this and want to expose their kids to STEM? Denise: My response to this question is primarily directed to the parents and villages of young African American girls. Please, pretty please, make sure your young AA girl is not being discouraged from taking more math and science courses in school. Challenge your girl and her teachers. Introduce your girl to fun math and science experiments, which can easily be purchased online. And last, but surely not least, introduce your girl to African American women who have STEM careers so that you can expand your village to include these women. If you don’t know a woman with a STEM career, ask somebody to help you find one. For your girl, seeing is believing!
Q: What were some of the things you did for fun outside of STEM that keep you passionate and enthusiastic about your career? Denise: For over 20 years, I served as the interviewing skills facilitator for my Delta chapter’s scholarship workshop for graduating seniors. During my presentation, I shared the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, delivered real talk messages and conducted mock interviews with the students. I was also a facilitator in the career interest break-out sessions, where I shared my STEM journey, encouraged students, and answered questions about STEM education and careers. Over the years, I hope I have planted seeds that produced young aspiring STEM careers. My belief is that African American women with STEM backgrounds and careers, have a responsibility to help fill this pipeline with others who look like us! ▪
Q: What skills can women who just graduated from college in STEM-related fields focus on to become successful? Denise: I would say soak in as much knowledge and information as possible. And I’m not just talking about online information, books, podcasts, etc. These are a given. I’m talking about engaging in conversations with employees who are currently in the organization. When I first started working at Dow, I would talk to senior engineers, leaders, office professionals, technicians, security guards, anybody who was willing to share their wisdom with me, and I’d sprinkle in some tough questions too. You really do need a village at work. Never be afraid to ask for help. I find that most people are willing and excited when someone reaches out to them to ask for help. but back in the day, if an employee was very strong technically, it was assumed that she/he could be equally as talented as a people leader. NOT TRUE!! What we needed were people leaders who genuinely cared about the success of all employees on the team and respected the differences. I had a leader who was afraid to ask me any tough questions (not technical-related) because he knew I would tell him the truth and he did not want to hear it or try to “unhear it”. We needed people leaders who looked in the mirror and asked questions i.e., “Am I getting the most out of every employee?”, “What can I do better as a leader?”
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4 STEPS TO A 4.0
This story starts with my mother opening up my grade report from my first semester of college...GPA: 1.40! She just looked at me with that disappointing look that only mothers can give you and she says, “Now you know this ain’t you!” As I looked down, the only thing I could say was, “I know. I promise to do better!” She replied, “I know, because you WILL NOT be at that school much longer!” The story gets much better, because even though I started out with a 1.4 GPA, I ended graduating with honors in civil engineering. The last four semesters of undergrad, I had 4.0 semester averages and was recruited by the incomparable Dr. Frederick S. Humphries to be in his first class of NASA Graduate Fellows to attend the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering for my masters in environmental engineering. These are the 4 steps I used to turn around my collegiate academic career and equally turn around my life.
Go to every class and turn in every assignment. Be in class the first day and go to every other class (if you can, there is always life to deal with). Turn in every assignment, even if you think it may not be totally correct (#2 will help out with that). This establishes consistency.
Go by and see your professor on a regular basis. If you are doing well in the class, maybe once per month is okay. However, if you are not, go by every week. Bring the latest homework and get one-on-one attention to aid in your studies. Everyone has different learning styles and maybe your professor can tailor teaching approaches to your style. They also can give you supplemental material that can further explains learning objectives. This establishes visibility.
Get in or start a study group of 3-6 members. You can divide reading assignments among the members and have the members teach their portion to the group. You can learn from each other’s strengths and help out each other’s weaknesses. You really become comfortable with the portion you teach because you hear it a couple of times. This establishes collaborative learning among the group members.
Get a mentor. A mentor is someone that has traveled the road you are embarking upon. They know where the pitfalls and potholes are and can help you navigate away from those. A mentor is someone that is going to guide you through your program and be there when (and you will) you want to quit. Your mentor will establish accountability on your journey.
Not only has this list gotten me through a bachelor’s and two master’s degree, I have followed it in my 25-year engineering career. I want to share it with you because it has never let me down.
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Our Re.engineer Hacks are simple professional development tools that increase productivity and provides insight to progressing in your career. These Hacks are produced by our team of subject matter experts and whether or not your goal is to take your career to the next level or to improve one aspect, each Hack is designed to inspire action.
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C A R E E R H A C K S
ALWAYS MAKE TIME FOR REFLECTION. Meaningful networking often creates a log of good information exchange. Sometime easy to digest, other times more complex. Take the time to think about what you learned, other resources you’re using to supplement/ expand your learning, and how you will use it in your life. KNOW YOUR STUFF. Your network is not your only classroom. And remember, you need to also be a valuable resource to them. Learn about your team and company’s broader goals, resources, industry trends, thought leaders, etc. Share what you know!
NETWORKING DIFFERS ACROSS CAREER PHASES. Early, mid, and seasoned employees all need networking. Where are you in your career? What do you want to accomplish in that stage?
NETWORKING EXCELLENCE LISA WILLIAMS Science has shown the most successful people are often also those who rely heavily on the power of networking,. However many professionals struggle with effective networking. Even if they do it well at times, they don’t build a long-term plan.
ENGAGE WITH PURPOSE. Do your homework about what you want and the person with whom you are attempting to network. Make good use of their time and respect their calendar. This consideration will likely open their calendars to you in the future. name it! Most people make the mistake of only networking with people more senior to them. But in reality, you’ll be with your peers and people earlier in their career more. You can learn something from everyone. Be as inclusive as you can when linking. NETWORK IN ALL DIRECTIONS. Up, down, across, 3 dimension, you
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Lisa Williams is a chemical manufacturing industry
professional with experience in engineering, supply chain, and procurement. She is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, and APICS certified CIPM and CSCP. Lisa has worked with several employee resource groups for over 20 years and often speaks, writes, and teaches on networking, career development, personal branding, executive presence, and organization effectiveness among other topics.
“ Networking is the No . 1 unwritten rule of success in business .”
BE PROFESSIONAL & FOLLOW UP. The best way to prove to people you are listening, is to tell them what you heard. Thank them for the time, outline a few key points, complete any actions you took, and ask for another session (if it makes sense). Most people ignore this critical step, making you more memorable when you do it.
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Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn ▪
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REVERSE ENGINEERING WINNING STRATEGIES FOR STUDIES IN STEM DR. HEATHER J. ROSS To overcome any obstacle or win any fight, it is smart to check out your opponent, know what you’re up against. We are going to start from the end and work our way backwards.
Poor grades (or perceived low grades). Lost interest in or disappointed by STEM major. Lacks sense of belonging, negative culture of STEM. Problems with classroom learning experiences (too fast paced, course pitched too high; poor alignment between course elements). “Weed-out” effects from gateway STEM courses you overcome the obstacles and challenges along the way? It is well-known that about 40% of freshmen who intend to major in a STEM field actually complete a STEM degree. A major study found the top five factors contributing to students’ decisions to switch from these college majors: It is not realistic to believe none of these issues will impact you. Instead, when it does happen, know that you are not alone, even if others do not share the reality of their situations. STEM scholar, apply your scientific and mathematical skills to life. We know the desired outcome, now what is needed to get you from where you are to where you want to be. The potential obstacles are already known. Think through what tools and strategies will be most advantageous for your success.
Here are a few winning strategies to help you give your dream your best effort: GROW YOUR PERSPECTIVE. All STEM majors are challenging. They are also more a part of everyday life than you think. It helps to be able to see the importance and relevance of the subject in real life. Learn relevant history and growth of the field to help you maintain a firm grasp on the bigger picture. Your position within the greater field of study and society matter. This information can be a source of encouragement and help you in navigating career choices. LEARN YOURSELF. Answer important questions, such as what keeps you going and what refreshes you. Invest in learning your strengths and what helps you to shift into peak performance. A DISC personality profile is a great source of objective information. Cultivate your support system, learn which relationships build you up, both academically and as a person. More importantly, give yourself room to grow as a person, a student, and a professional. When your grades are not what you hoped, understand that is normal and can be changed. Most important is what you do about it. Learn from Nelson Mandela, the South African social rights activist, who said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” STUDY EFFECTIVELY. Majoring in STEM at a collegiate or higher level requires a different type of academic investment. Studying is a skill that is typically confused with doing homework. It is a skill you can learn and master. Academic support is your friend, not your enemy, nor a
In an interview, Michael Jordan, the world famous basketball player, talked about the power of visualization. He said most of what he experienced in a game was not new to him, because he had already experienced it in his mind. Prior to each game, Mr. Jordan used knowledge of the game and knowledge of the opposing team to inform his imagination. Then he allowed his imagination to play out scenarios and solutions. Like Michael Jordan, allow the information you encounter as you research your area of interest to serve as insight to inform your preparation for STEM studies. Know what you are up against, both good and bad. Visualize the reality of where you want to go--graduating with your STEM degree in hand. Imagine your cap and gown, loved ones beaming in their seats with pride, and job or graduate school prospects to choose from. Looking back, when you started this journey to complete a STEM degree, how did
C A R E E R H A C K S
Michael Jordan interview: MJ and Phil Jackson on Mindfulness and Visualization Study of STEM students: www.springer.com/gp/book/978303 0253035 Article about the study: link STEM scholars, now is the time to use the information available to inform your imagination, adequately prepare for the road ahead, and conquer your goals. This is your coach, Dr. Heather, and I hope this article has served to grow your vision, your awareness, and your understanding of your STEM journey. reason for shame. Determine what resources are available before you get in trouble. Another finding of this same study of STEM students is that poor teaching was the most significant factor in explaining why many students discontinued their course of study. Learn what works best for you and know that you may have to utilize different types of studying for different classes. References:
Dr. Heather J. Ross is the Chief Solutionist at Solutionists
International, where she is equipping growth-minded individuals, teams, & organizations to enhance team engagement, productivity, and performance. You can connect with her at solutionistsinternational.com ▪Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80
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