Recognizing and celebrating women's immense talent and engineering capabilities is vital for equality and inclusion, but it's also a powerful catalyst for innovation and progress in this field. It is a privilege to embark on a journey to shed light on the remarkable women within our company who have proven that their expertise knows no boundaries. These interviews aim to amplify their voices, share their stories, and inspire the next generation of engineers by showcasing their achievements and dedication. Our next lady in this series of interviews is Teodora Velickovic, our smiling engineer from Niš and soon-to-be mom 😊

How did your educational background prepare you for your current role in tech?

My high school and college education equipped me with a solid understanding of programming principles, computer science, and knowledge of various technologies. While I have gained a broad range of information about technologies and their applications, there is always room for improvement and continuous learning.

What exciting projects or technologies are you currently working on in SYRMIA?

Before my maternity leave, I was involved in exciting projects in SYRMIA, working with technologies that were introduced to me during my education. On this project, I've not only applied my existing knowledge but have also acquired additional skills, including syntax, code logic, comprehension, and the ability to conduct independent research.

What has been your most rewarding experience as an engineer thus far? Why was it so meaningful to you?

In my first year in engineering, the most rewarding experience has been gaining a deep understanding of projects and environments. I've learned to make decisions quickly, solve challenging problems with less assistance from my team, and receive praise and support from my teammates. What's particularly significant for me is identifying errors, proposing better solutions, and suggesting code changes with the help of my team.

What aspects of embedded programming do you find particularly interesting or appealing?

I find embedded programming particularly interesting because it involves developing software for integrated systems that control hardware devices. Working at a low level and managing hardware directly seems extremely fascinating, requiring great attention to detail and the ability to tackle challenges. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to create a real impact on the world around us through smart devices, which I find very intriguing.

How do you stay current in your field and continue to learn and grow as an engineer?

Staying current in our field and continuing to learn and grow as engineers is facilitated by our team and colleagues within the company. We consistently stay abreast of new technologies and align ourselves with client requirements. Engaging in a diverse range of tasks not only helps us refresh our existing knowledge but also allows us to expand our knowledge base and gain new experiences in our daily work.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges that female engineers face in the industry today? How have you personally navigated these challenges?

Some of the most significant challenges facing female engineers today are related to stereotypes. These prejudices often result in limited opportunities for leadership and research roles. The insufficient representation of women in higher positions can also make it challenging to find mentors and support in many companies.

As for me personally, I haven't encountered unpleasant challenges related to stereotypes and other issues in this company. The only initial imbalance I experienced was between work and personal life, finding the right equilibrium between professional and personal responsibilities, a struggle that is more common among women than men.

How do your male colleagues in SYRMIA demonstrate their awareness and support of the position of female engineers in the tech labor market? Can you provide some examples of how they have shown their support?

Our company demonstrates strong support for female engineers, with nearly equal or sometimes greater representation of women in some teams compared to men. Every team member, including our excellent mentor, contributes to providing support and guidance. Essential aspects of this support include assistance in professional development and opportunities to participate in significant projects for women in our company.

Male colleagues, in particular, show awareness of the specific challenges faced by female engineers, and I believe they are genuinely committed to listening and creating a more pleasant and secure environment for our ideas and aspirations. A tangible expression of their support is observed in the delegation of certain meetings to us, which reinforces our sense of support and inclusion.

How do you integrate your personal values and priorities into your career, and how has that influenced your approach to work and life?

I integrate my personal values and priorities into my career by attempting to balance work obligations and personal life. This involves dedicating enough time to activities and engagement without compromising either side. The key lies in being complete and dedicated in the present moment of work. Whether in personal or professional life, it's crucial for me to fully focus on the task at hand. As I invest personally in myself, I also contribute to and invest in my company. I strive to create healthy relationships in both my personal and professional life, recognizing the importance of a positive work environment. I believe that fostering strong connections is a crucial aspect of the workplace, contributing to overall satisfaction and productivity.

How do you see the role of women in the engineering field evolving in the future?

The role of women in the engineering field is undoubtedly evolving and will continue to do so. In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on diversity across all industries, with increasing encouragement for women to pursue careers in engineering. Support and mentorship programs are actively provided to girls, and efforts are made to ensure equal opportunities in education and employment.

More women are now occupying leadership positions, and I believe this trend will extend to managerial roles as well. Women can contribute their skills and expertise in fields such as electronics, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The progress towards achieving equal pay and job opportunities for women in engineering is approaching complete parity.

What advice do you have for other women who are interested in pursuing a career in engineering?

Believe in yourself: Have confidence in your abilities and believe that you can achieve success in the engineering field. Don't let doubts or stereotypes discourage you.
Find a mentor: Seek out an experienced engineer as a mentor. Mentorship can provide you with support, inspiration, and valuable advice to navigate the industry more effectively.
Develop your skills: Always strive for continuous development of your technical skills. Stay updated on the latest trends and technologies in the engineering world and take steps to expand your knowledge and abilities.
Be prepared for challenges: The engineering industry can be demanding, but don't let that discourage you. Be prepared to learn, grow from experiences, and persevere in overcoming obstacles that may arise.
Network: Connect with other women engineers and professionals in the industry. Participate in conferences, seminars, and workshops to build a support network and gain new knowledge and contacts.

Just be brave!