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Kerrine Bryan

As a child, being one of few black children in my school, my mum always told me I would need to work twice as hard to get half the success of my white friends...

 

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Dear Future Self..

You can achieve your goals if you work hard enough. There may be setbacks along the way, but you just need to get back up again, be creative and find another route to your goal.

Tell us a bit about what you do?

I’m an electrical engineer and author. I’ve worked in the energy industry for 15 years, mainly in electrical power generation and distribution system design. My career started in the oil and gas industry, working on some major projects that took me around the world, including most of Europe, the UAE and South Korea. I currently work in New York for WSP, a global engineering and professional services consultancy. My role is a mixture of technical, project management and business development work. I’m currently working on some exciting projects including energy saving studies and renewable power. I’m also the founder of Butterfly Books and co-author of career themed children’s picture books with titles that include My Mummy is an Engineer, My Daddy is a Nurse and My Mummy is a Scientist.

How have you been able to navigate your career as a Black woman in Britain?

As a child, being one of few black children in my school, my mum always told me I would need to work twice as hard to get half the success of my white friends. That has been with me my whole life and has pushed me to always go the extra mile in anything that I do. It’s great to see that recently many organisations are highlighting the importance of inclusion and diversity and taking it seriously and I look forward to seeing positive change.

What is one of the biggest challenges you've faced in your life or career and how did you overcome it?

Getting a balance of career, home life and extra-curricular activities has at some points been a challenge. Apart from my engineering role, I run a publishing company, write children’s books, volunteer with two organisations (The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and the Social Justice Engineering Initiative (SJEI)) and also have two daughters. Planning my time and being organised is key to overcoming the challenge of getting the right balance. Having a support network around is very important too.

Do you have any practical tips for girls/women interested in pursuing a career in your particular field?

Ask lots of questions! Engineering has so many different fields of work, so do some research on the range of jobs that you could do. After your initial research, it’s great to talk with people who work in the field that you are interested in so that you can ask some more specific questions. If you don’t know anyone then there are plenty of organisations out there that provide this kind of service. A great one is Career Ear, which provides the opportunity to speak with professionals in the field of work you are interested in. For engineering careers advice the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) has excellent resources and programmes too that I would recommend. You could also try volunteering for a charity related to engineering, providing the opportunity to learn more and connect with people in the field.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Never think that you know everything. I was told this by my mentor on my first day of work. At the start of my career this was very easy as I did have a lot to learn, taking the leap from academic study to real life practical work. As I‘ve progressed in my career its more about having humility. It encourages listening and being open to other ways of thinking, which encourages creativity and better solutions, which is particularly required in engineering.

Our future starts now - with your experiences and everything you now know - what would you tell your future self?

You can achieve your goals if you work hard enough. There may be setbacks along the way, but you just need to get back up again, be creative and find another route to your goal.

What resources or book(s) would you recommend to a young woman wanting to level-up in her personal life or career?

A good life planner (journal/diary) A well-kept phone calendar

Anything else you'd like to add?

Go for your dreams!