Three Latina Engineers share tips for thriving in corporate America

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM-related jobs will grow to more than 9 million by 2022. While women and minorities have been traditionally underrepresented in this field, there is a growing sense of urgency to increase their numbers in the STEM workforce. With Latinas completing college at almost twice the rate than their male counterparts, Hispanic women are poised to tap the jobs opportunity by considering STEM-related careers in a wide variety of sectors including the automotive industry.

We interviewed three outstanding Latina engineers at General Motors who have been recognized as Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers (YHCA) by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) for their passion in engineering, corporate leadership and community involvement and here is what they had to say.

Imelda E. Siegelson
Stamping Industrial Engineer/Launch Coordinator at GM Spring Hill, TN

Why did you choose engineering?
I chose a path in engineering after a career day in the 7th grade. Engineering was “The Career of the Future.” I went home and proudly announced that, “I was going to be an engineer!” That summer I was accepted into the Texas Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (TexPREP), which exposed me to other opportunities within the field. I became an Industrial Engineer because it allowed me to apply my people skills every day to make a big impact by improving processes.

If you could describe how you feel about being an engineer in three words, what would those be?
Family role model – I’m the first in my family with High school, Undergrad & Graduate degrees

What are the three things that could help Latinas grow and stand out in an engineering career?
1. Find a mentor. – Establish connections and surround yourself with a network that will help you grow!
2. Keep current. – Take every opportunity to learn and increase the skills in your toolbox.
3. Do not be afraid and take that next assignment. – Stretch yourself and learn new talents that will make you a better person.

Nydia Correa
Robust Engineering Process Specialist – VSS at GM

Why did you choose engineering?
I’ve always enjoyed math, science and overall problem solving. As a child, I used to figure out how to repair things with my older sister (an Engineer at GM as well). My mother, a HS Math Teacher and College Counselor, and father, a Construction & Metal Fabrication Vocational Teacher and classic car enthusiast, showed me the benefits of applying math and science in daily life. At the age of 16, I participated in a NASA Apprenticeship Summer Program, which confirmed my desire to pursue a career in STEM.

If you could describe how you feel about being an engineer in three words, what would those be?
Inspired to innovate!

What are the three things that could help Latinas grow and stand out in an engineering career?
1. Have the customer in mind in every decision you make or influence.
2. Learn from the experiences and wisdom of others and from personal mistakes.
3. Be open to embrace different approaches and perspectives to solve problems through collaboration and teamwork.

Diana E. Ortega
Quality Launch Manager for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Why did you choose engineering?
I chose engineering as I really enjoyed understanding how things worked mechanically. My childhood curiosity to put things together and break them apart and my passion for problem-solving and improving things, made me realize that pursuing a career in engineering was the right thing to do. My mother worked at GM for 14 years and this also sparked my interest in the industry. I was up for the challenge when I saw the low number of women in technical fields and the high demand in STEM-related jobs and I felt I could make an impact “quickly” in a technical field.

If you could describe how you feel about being an engineer in three words, what would those be?
Relentless, Dynamic, and Optimization

What are the three things that could help Latinas grow and stand out in an engineering career?
1. Work hard and demonstrate what you are capable of to all levels of the organization.
2. Be adaptable and don’t be afraid to take on challenging roles. Ask for guidance when in doubt.
3. Develop your own “Board of Directors” that will applaud you for the great things you do and give you feedback on your areas of improvement.

There is no doubt that Latinas have what it takes to excel in STEM careers and pursue the many opportunities corporate America has to offer. Imelda, Nydia and Diana are serving as an inspiration for young Latinas that desire to join the corporate world and build promising careers in global companies, such as General Motors. They started with a goal and determination to succeed, and are now living examples that the dream is possible… ‘Sí se puede’