Women to Watch

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You may not know their names now, but these three women are on the rise and will no doubt be making their mark as their careers unfold.

The road to success has been varied and challenging for Sally Smith, Rachel Marr and Abi Harper.

From archaeological digs in Greece, to furniture making and structural engineering, Sally, Rachel and Abi are nearing the end of their academic studies at WelTec and will shortly be moving into new careers in areas significantly under-represented by women.

Sally is soon to become an engineer, Rachel a Quantity Surveyor and Abi a programmer with a focus on forensic IT.

Each woman is this year’s recipient of a Graduate Women Wellington scholarship which contributes to the cost of their study and aims to promote non-traditional areas of study to female students.

“From an outstanding field of twenty worthy candidates these women were selected as stand-outs and definitely on the road to successful careers in the construction, IT and engineering sectors,” says WelTec and Whitireia Director Academic Dr Ruth Anderson.

The scholarship panel was impressed with the quality of candidates to select from. It really is incredibly heartening to see so many women picking up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) at a tertiary level and pursuing their life-time goals. Sally, Rachel and Abi are women to watch.

Sally Smith is a woman on a mission. After 15 years working in administration for engineering companies overseas and in New Zealand Sally decided to become an engineer.

“I liked what the engineers I was working alongside were doing and wanted to become more involved.”

Sally finishes the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering in July this year and has her sights firmly set on a career in civil engineering. “I’m really keen on structural and geotechnical engineering,” says Sally. With two young boys Sally has managed both study and parenthood and sees this as no obstacle to pursuing her career goal to work as an engineer.

Abi Harper started her student life studying Classics, Latin and Ancient Greek. Securing funding for her Honours thesis Abi found herself on an archaeological site in Greece. That passion for digging things up, discovery and exploring the surroundings of an ancient civilisation led her to consider a career in ICT particularly in forensic IT.

"There are similarities between archaeology and programming. Both involve a methodical, deliberate approach. Computing boils down to pure logic and that’s what I love," says Abi who will shortly complete her Bachelor of Information Technology.

“Look outside the box for a job.” That’s the advice of former hobby furniture-making Rachel Marr. “Be open-minded about what your skills could be and think about what you enjoy most. Just because you don’t like maths at school for example, doesn’t mean you won’t like working with maths,” says the soon-to-be qualified Quantity Surveyor. “Plan for a job that is in demand and go for it. That’s what I’m doing and I can’t wait to enter the construction industry and put my skills into practice.”

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