Celebrating Women in Engineering: Spotlight on Sarah Mlundira, Global Head of Engineering at Sentric Safety Group

21st June 2024
Colin Roope
Associate Partner

In celebration of Women in Engineering Day on Sunday, 23rd June, we are delighted to spotlight inspiring women in the field. Colin Roope, Associate Partner in our Manufacturing and Engineering practice, sat down with Sarah Mlundira, Global Head of Engineering at Sentric Safety Group to discuss pivotal moments in her career, such as the invaluable mentorship that guided her towards attaining her Chartership in Engineering (CEng) and how she developed essential leadership skills. Join us as we delve into Sarah’s career journey and celebrate the remarkable contributions of women in engineering. 

Can you share a pivotal moment or experience in your engineering career that significantly influenced your path to leadership?

I had a wonderful mentor at work who was part of the leadership team. I aspired to be like him. He encouraged me to progress my career and attain my Chartership in Engineering (CEng). Some of the required competences for CEng are “Responsibility, Management and Leadership”. On my journey to attain CEng, my mentor/sponsor gave me work opportunities that developed my skills in leadership.

As a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field, what strategies or approaches have you found most effective in navigating challenges and breaking through barriers?

I have always loved engineering; my dad was an engineer and my hero. My passion for engineering has often helped me to overcome the challenges that I have faced in this field. I have worked hard to excel in my technical capacities to prove I am not less capable than male counterparts. I stay focused on the work at hand and forget that I am, in many cases, different from the majority in the field. This passion and focus have helped me overcome the challenges women often face in this industry, as well as the limits I have put on myself.

How do you think diversity and inclusion initiatives within the engineering industry have evolved throughout your career, and what impact have they had on your professional journey? 

We are still on the journey to a world where diversity and inclusion will not be a hot topic, but the way of life – especially in the engineering industry – however, there have been significant strides in improving the status quo when it comes to diversity and inclusion. A lot of organisations now recognise that improving diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do and, further, that it has a real impact on the organisation’s performance. I believe seeing this change has inspired me to explore opportunities that I would otherwise have not pursued.

In your opinion, what unique perspectives do women bring to engineering and leadership roles, and how do these contribute to innovation and success within your field?

Engineering is about problem solving; a diverse team can offer a broader range of ideas. I believe women bring something distinct and beneficial to the engineering field. Our life experiences tend to differ from those of our male counterparts, therefore we have a different perspective on problems and how to solve them. This is critical for innovative ideas.

As a leader in engineering, what advice would you offer to young women considering a career in STEM fields, particularly those aspiring to leadership positions? 

I would encourage young women considering a career in the STEM world to focus on their goals and strive to do as well as they can in their field. They should never feel disheartened because of a few failures along the journey but should pick themselves up and follow their passion. As women, we can be hard on ourselves and never allow ourselves to fail. IBM’s Thomas Watson, Sr. once said, “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”  Don’t be afraid to fail.

This interview was conducted by Colin Roope, Associate Partner in our Manufacturing & Engineering Practice. If you are looking to progress your career within this sector, please contact Colin.  

Categories: Manufacturing & Engineering