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Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2023 – Julie Stears

International Women in Engineering Day 2023

International Women in Engineering Day is celebrated annually on June 23rd, to raise women’s profile in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. Shining a light on women in engineering worldwide gives us a chance to celebrate outstanding achievements across this industry.

Whilst we’re always looking to champion outstanding people in engineering, this day is an ideal opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements in engineering, raise awareness about the types of careers available, and share stories of inspiring women.

The number of women in engineering roles also increased from 562,000 in 2010 to 936,000 in 2021.

For this IWED, join us in celebrating just some of the inspirational women in our community and the empowering work they do for women everywhere.

Julie Stears

Chief Engineer – Engineering Quality, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)

After being inspired by her dad from a young age, Julie went on to attend the University of Sunderland to study Automotive Engineering. After successfully graduating with a First Class degree in 2010, she began her career in automotive, starting at General Motors.

Julie has always worked in the automotive sector and says she was hooked for life after having the fantastic opportunity to launch the all-new Astra during her time at General Motors. Julie then went on to work at Johnson Controls before securing a position at Jaguar Land Rover.

Over the span of nearly 7 years at Jaguar Land Rover, Julie has worked her way up, getting involved in lots of different areas and projects. Now working in Engineering Quality, Julie is responsible for encouraging engineers to develop the best technology with the best quality. Julie has recently been recognised as Automotive News Europe’s, rising star 2022.

A photo of Julie Stears.

”STEM careers have never been so exciting, technology is moving on exponentially and there is no shortage of opportunities. Technology is never out of fashion and the opportunity to innovate always exists.”

Where did your initial interest in STEM come from?

”My Dad – he was always working on cars and building things and I was lucky enough that we would spend weekends on projects. My favourite was converting a single-decker bus into our family camper van! Anything that needed building, we built together!”

What is your current role?

”I’m an engineering leader at Jaguar Land Rover. My role is about developing a strategy to encourage our engineers to develop the best technology with the best quality. I do that through specific training & development, peer reviews & technical strategies raising our standards.”

Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in this role

”I’ve always worked in automotive, I started working at General Motors at Ellesmere Port in supply chain, I had a fantastic opportunity to launch the all-new Astra and that hooked me into automotive for life. I was sold on the “automotive dream”.

I moved from GM to the supply base focusing on manufacturing and new product launch before jumping back to JLR. During my time at JLR I’ve predominately worked in new car launches and more recently progressed from single plant engineering quality responsibility to overall vehicle & commodity engineering quality.”

What is your favourite thing about working in STEM? 

”The rate of change of technology. In recent years my job has shifted focus from mechanical failures to full system interactions, software and software over the air. I have learned so much about diagnostic trouble codes, software, cyber security and legislation about our vehicles. STEM has such a broad span and STEM carers allow you to find “your thing” and specialise in it. A lot of the skills you develop in STEM careers are transferrable, so a real opportunity for a diverse career exists.”

What advice would you give to young women interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

”Go for it!  STEM careers have never been so exciting, technology is moving on exponentially and there is no shortage of opportunities. Technology is never out of fashion and the opportunity to innovate always exists. STEM careers consisting of dirty hands & overalls are long gone.”

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

”Feedback is a gift and sometimes it’s an unwanted one. Very little feedback comes without expectation or agenda. Find a mentor outside of your direct reporting line, someone you can trust and seek feedback & advice from that trusted source. Feedback from trusted sources will allow you to adapt behaviour and be more self-aware so make sure you trust where it’s coming from.”

Who or what inspires you?

”Marry Barra. She was the first female CEO in Automotive, and she did it on her own terms. She held a variety of roles within GM which made me think about my career and really showcases you can do anything if you really want to. I really like the fact we’ve worked in manufacturing, supply chain and engineering. I’ve watched her since my time at GM and she is genuinely transforming GM into a modern company offering really cool vehicles. Aside from the technical & product transformation she is also transforming the culture. GM is one of only two global companies with no gender pay gap.”

Thanks to Julie for sharing with us. It was great to hear how Julie’s favourite thing about working in STEM is finding ways to grow and adapt to the ways technology is rapidly changing.

Are You Inspired To Pursue a Career in STEM?

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