From trucks to inhalers
Design engineer Jenny Ander can speak with equal confidence about heavy vehicle components and the product development of combined medical devices. During her three years as a consultant at Semcon, she has managed to switch from one industry to another, work both in-house and at customer sites, and has put herself to the test in the role of team leader. What are her tips for other young engineers? Take the chance to try on a consulting role!
Sometimes I think the word consultant can have an undeservedly negative ring to it. Of course, it may seem intimidating or lacking in security to “duck in and out” of different projects or companies – but if you’re anything like me, curious about a lot of different things, then the benefits will carry a lot more weight! To have the opportunity to build a large network and develop experience in a range of exciting companies, with the security and colleagues at Semcon to back me up, for me that’s just perfect. You can never have too many friends or too much knowledge!
I’ve always enjoyed writing, so even though I’d never dreamt of going into the automotive industry, my first assignment suited me perfectly. One of my main tasks was to write three instruction manuals for gearboxes and cylindrical engines. As well as writing, I’ve always been interested in biology, and especially in the human body, such as diseases and genetics. So when I was choosing my specialisation at university, it was between biomedicine or design engineer – today I’m glad it was the latter, but I’ve maintained my interest in the medical field.
After about a year at Semcon, my manager asked me a challenging question: “Jenny, would you like to be team leader for the group?” And I grew so much in that role. I acted as mentor to my Semcon colleagues in the project, had daily contact with the customer (both in Sweden and internationally), and had to assume a lot of responsibility in the project. It was very instructive and, since I managed to do it, really gave a boost to my self-confidence in my role as consultant. I’m glad I chose to work at Semcon where gender, age or ethnicity are not barriers to getting ahead – an approach where we all win in the long term!
One course package later, and I’m right where I want to be: in the life science field! After two eventful years in the automotive industry, I was equipped with the basic knowledge needed for GMP and validation, and I started as a project engineer at a large pharmaceutical company. It’s been exciting to have an assignment in a new field. On the one hand, to see how I can contribute with my outside perspective, and on the other because I have the opportunity to develop my thinking about patient safety and hygiene requirements. It’s important to me to develop, I want to be on my way somewhere, and this new environment has made something new of my specialist skills in CAD drawing, because I have to do it with my life science glasses on.
What has made the first few years of my career so eventful? I think my curiosity has been one key element. You can open a lot of doors if you dare to ask questions, are open, and are able to help yourself. These are important attributes for a lot of people, but perhaps for consultants in particular. If you get an enquiry from your employer about an assignment you might not have considered initially, it’s good to have the courage to say, “Yes”, as for me in the automotive industry. I stayed there for two rewarding and developing years, and wouldn’t want to be without that experience. If your current assignment isn’t suitable, you can reach agreement with your manager about the next step – that flexibility is a great advantage in the consulting profession.
If I look ahead, I don’t want to limit myself to any particular role or industry – but instead my goal is to continue to grow as a person and as a consultant. And if I can do it in a motivated team with diversity in terms of gender, age and level of experience, then it will be a big plus!
Title: Project engineer
Education: Design engineer with specialisation in product development
Worked at Semcon since: Feb 2018
I have most fun at work when I…: can develop and I’m motivated.