My name is Lynda O’Leary and I am a Systems Engineer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. I studied Applied Languages with Computing from the University of Limerick. As a systems engineer, I develop simple solutions for complex applications and help automate the building, testing and deploying of software. I enjoy travelling and running. I have an interest in fashion. In secondary school, I enjoyed sports and my favourite subjects were German & Maths.
Has your opinion of STEM changed since you were a teenager?
Yes, when I was a teenager I thought only computer science graduates work in tech companies. I didn’t know that STEM careers are very versatile and that you can enter the tech industry in many ways.
In your opinion, what is the biggest myth about STEM careers?
STEM careers are boring and working in an office means you are tied to a desk. The tech industry is a fast-paced changing industry and there are plenty of opportunities to work remotely or in a different office in another country.
Do you believe that there is enough being done to encourage girls to study STEM and pursue STEM careers?
Nowadays, students have great STEM resources. There are lots of initiatives in place to help students discover STEM careers, develop related skills and support them towards STEM paths from primary to third level. Teen-Turn, CoderDojo, Smart Futures, Dreamspace@Microsoft, STEMEttes, iWish & SFI have initiatives such as mentorship programs, coding workshops and grants for choosing STEM degrees that help encourage and support girls to pursue STEM careers. As a result of this support and encouragement, CAO applications for STEM degrees increased in 2019, which shows students believe there are strong job prospects in STEM and there is encouragement for girls to study STEM subjects. I believe we need to improve support at intern and employee levels. Companies need to ensure their culture is supportive and provides opportunities for the next generation of engineers to flourish.
What do you love about your current role?
I love that I am continuously learning and every day presents new challenges.
Do you get to work with any new technologies?
Yes, all the time. Technologies evolve and tech trends are rapidly changing. It is exciting to work on emerging technologies.
Do you feel that you fit the stereotypical description of a person in your role?
I love working in tech but I do find it strange that some people think your identity defines what role you do. When someone questions my career choice because they don’t think I fit their stereotype, I like to remind them I do the same work as everyone else. You don’t need a certain look or background to be successful. Don’t listen to those who think you do. All you need is passion and competency.
If a young person told you that they would like to get into your role, what advice would you give them?
Know your strengths and focus on learning new things. Be in control of your own career. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Good things come to those who make it happen.
What do you want to see change in the industry in the next 10 years?
I would like to see more diverse teams & an emphasis on equality for all employees. Companies must be more flexible and understand what needs to change in order to support diversity & inclusion for all.
Did you complete any sort of placement or internship during your studies? If so, did it prepare you for what you do now?
My internship was at European Aeronautic Defense & Space Company (EADS) Astrium in Germany. I really enjoyed my internship. My role included translating German to English and doing administration duties. I was surrounded by engineers and I was amazed with the technology that was being developed for astronauts & the defence forces. I was impressed with how they encouraged girls to take part in the STEM/space industry. EADS Astrium organised a Girls Day event, an open day for girls to attend EADS sites and to experience life in engineering. I remember showing the girls how to make rockets with effervescent vitamin tablets in plastic tubs. The experience encouraged me to try new things – you never know what you might love to do.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
Hopefully, to have my own company.
What television series are you currently watching?
At the moment, I am watching Star Trek Discovery on Netflix.
What living person do you most admire, and why?
My mom. She is very knowledgeable, has great advice & has a great sense of humour.