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Community Connections

For this interview I chose to do Christina Proseilo. She used to work with my dad and from what he told me about her, she was a female engineer in a male dominated industry. I wanted to interview her because I am really inspired by women like Christina, who chose to take on a more male dominated role, and who inevitably end up doing a better job then the men. From this interview I learned that if you are a woman who wants to take on a more male dominated career then you are going to have to work twice as hard, to keep on proving yourself until they respect you.

Christina Proseilo

  • What obstacles have you faced to get where you are today?

I am a female engineer in a mostly male dominated field.  As a women, I have had to prove myself more than any males.  This can also work in my favor as some companies like to hire women to look more diverse (for appearance). I have had to work hard and be very diligent in school to be able to graduate high school and university.  Engineering is a challenging program to get into and even harder once at university. Getting the initial work experience is also a challenge since most companies want experience.  But this is common, and often have to compromise on salary to get a start somewhere.  Once I had experience, I had many options for various jobs.

  • Why are you passionate about your job?

I enjoy improving things whether it is processes, equipment or people related.  As an engineer, I have sufficient education to gain respect to be able to explain and analyze various problems.  I also enjoy problem solving and the satisfaction that comes with solving complicated issues.  I enjoy the challenge.

  • What advice would you pass on to someone interested in what you are doing?

I enjoy my job and the challenges.  It can be hard work, but keeps you on your toes and always thinking.  You won’t make the most amount of money but will have a high amount of job satisfaction.  If you don’t like the job, as an engineer there are lots of opportunity to change your environment, role and responsibilities.  Also, education gives you the foot in the door and a chance to prove yourself.  Once you get a taste of a company and its organization, it is easy to forge your path forward.  I have met lots of engineers that have started as engineers, but continued their career in management and are now CEO’s/general managers of companies.  Engineering gives you the education, thought process and respect to do what want to achieve.

  • What made you want to be an engineer?

I was very good at sciences and math in school.  In addition, my father was an engineer so I knew about the industry.  Seemed like a good fit.  I liked the idea of applying science and math theories to everyday problems.

  • Are you ever intimidated by being a female engineer in a more male dominated industry?

Not so much anymore.  Sometimes I feel like I have to prove myself as a female especially in a more male dominated industry.  People are pretty good nowadays about treating everybody equally in regards to work environments.  There are differences between women and men, especially around maternity leave/pregnancy and childcare, that cannot be ignored.  Women tend to be the primary caregiver and as a result will be discriminated against in hiring practices and promotions (this is rarely discussed but is real).  I feel like I was overlooked for a promotion either because I was on maternity leave or pregnant.  I was OK with this because I was happier having a family then stress out over a job.  It can get in the way and it can be hard to work out what you want vs what you feel you could deserve.

  • What was one of your craziest work experiences?

Working as a manufacturing shift engineer at a aluminum casting plant with a rare molten aluminum spill (at 750C).  There was molten aluminum flowing everywhere and causing fires and electrical issues.  It was a major safety issue, but the company was prepared accordingly to deal with safety first and clean-up afterwards.  I was charged with clean-up to get the plant up and running again.  It was intense and exciting.

  • How many places have you worked since becoming an engineer and how did you find them similar and different from each other?

manufacturing engineer in aluminum casting plant in New Zealand, Manufacturing engineer in fuel cell company in Burnaby, Manufacturing engineer at a aluminum casting plant in Delta, Project Manager at grain terminal in Vancouver, and Project Manager at oil refinery in Burnaby. Jobs 1-3 were very similar in role and responsibility.  I enjoyed the job and was a good mix of hands on and analysis.  Industrial and manufacturing environment. Jobs 4-5 were similar.  Industrial environment but no operational reporting.  This was more management and very little hands on. As I gained more experience, I have gained more responsibility and have enjoyed the job growth.

  • When you were train to become an engineer, did anyone ever doubt you that you could? And if so how did you over come that?

Not often.  If there was doubt, I would work a bit harder to prove myself.  I never doubted myself and I believe that showed.  I had confidence and was not scared to show it.

  • Is the job you wanted as a child, similar or related to engineering, or did you completely branch out?

I never really knew what I wanted as a child.  Some kids had dreams about their jobs but I asked my mom and she said I never did.  I just followed what I was good at and went with it.  I was also not scared to move and take risks as required.  I embraced change and ran with it.

Would you be open to further contact from Riverside students, and if so how could they contact you?

  • Yes, people can contact me, email is best Cestey@hotmail.com