Naomi Climer FREng is Past President of Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
“I love the fact that things are changing so fast, so there’s always something new to learn.”
How would you describe your current role to someone who knows nothing about engineering?
I’m the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing everyone – from engineers and governments to parents, teachers, children and society – about the value of engineering. I am accountable for making sure that the whole IET organisation is operating effectively to deliver our goals and I have a lot of ambassadorial duties such as making speeches, doing media interviews (for radio, TV and newspapers) and representing the profession at events.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
Engineering is creative, stimulating, varied and it captured my interest immediately. You can work on things that make a difference, solve problems, meet people from all over the world and be paid to carry on doing all the things you enjoyed as a kid. Why would anyone not choose to go into engineering?
What do you like most about being an engineer?
I like everything about being an engineer! It’s great to be able to solve problems individually and in teams. Engineering has allowed me to work all over the world because engineers are needed everywhere. I love the fact that things are changing so fast, so there’s always something new to learn, or a new way to solve a problem.
Tell us about an achievement that you are most proud of.
I’m proud of becoming the first-ever woman president of the IET. Although I believe I would have become president regardless of my gender, it was an important milestone for the IET. It has created an opportunity to highlight women in engineering and it has been one of the many things that is helping us all to have the discussion about the need for diversity in engineering.
How do you think gender parity in engineering can be achieved?
We need many concerted actions from school to industry over a number of years; companies and universities that have focused on these things have had an impact.
There could also be more coverage of women in technology in the media, and companies and universities should set themselves gender parity targets, and measure and report on their progress.
How has being a woman in engineering changed since you started working in the engineering sector?
Workplace policies in general have changed over the years, improving the environment for everyone. Technology is becoming so integrated into everyone’s life, meaning that strengths like relationship building, communication, empathy and understanding how technology will impact lives are becoming increasingly important. Each individual has their own particular strengths but – statistically – classic female strengths are becoming critical for successful engineering projects. The opportunity for engineers with strong people skills to thrive is increasing.
What would you say to someone considering a career in engineering?
If you’re good at maths, you like to solve problems and you would like to make a difference in the world - do it!
Engineering is so broad. Whatever your interest (space, medicine, fashion, music) and whatever your personality (prefers to work alone, prefers to work in teams, indoors, outdoors, overseas, at home), there is an engineering job for you.
The skills you learn in engineering (analysis, problem solving, creative thinking) are skills for life – it’s a great foundation for anyone.