Women graduates visit to inspire current Mech Eng students


Four Mech Eng women alumni in the CAGB Level 2 concourse

Photo by Mingxuan Cai

On 14th March, the Department of Mechanical Engineering welcomed back female alumni to share with current students their career insights.

In a series of engaging presentations, four female former students of the Department discussed their careers to-date, reflecting on their journeys to their current roles in construction, defence, energy & technology consulting and industrial automation.

Following the presentations, the speakers were joined by students from across Mechanical Engineering for a networking lunch. Students had the unique opportunity to ask speakers about their time at Imperial and how their rich and varied career experience came to be.

Reflecting on her time at Imperial and subsequent career, Gaya Ilangairatnam, Product Rollout Lead at Ocado Engineering, reminded students of the importance of networking. She encouraged budding engineers to “go and speak and hone your networking skills, because networking is so important when you’re in the outside world”.

Photo by Mingxuan Cai
Photo by Mingxuan Cai

The speakers outlined how useful their degrees have proven to be in the professional world, with skills and concepts learned during their time at Imperial providing an excellent theoretical grounding and an ability to work in varied industries and roles.

But students were advised against settling on a job-for-life too early into their professional careers. Gina Brill, Commercial & Legal Director at construction firm Alan Baxter has held a variety of roles in her career. “My key message to you is don’t feel you have to stick with one thing”, she advised. “There’s always an opportunity to move into a different area - take opportunities as they arise and go with your gut”.

Around 20% of Undergraduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering are female. This number has been growing, and Imperial currently sits above the national average.

Dr Julie Varley, Director of Student Experience in the Department, spoke of the significance of the event: “We’re delighted to have been able to welcome back our alumni to talk to students about the diverse and varied career paths available with a Mechanical Engineering degree. We hope that in inviting back such successful women to the Department, we’ve been able to demonstrate the extent of the opportunities available to our students in their early careers and beyond.”


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering