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Meet the Fellows - Sarah Malik FIET

Having wanted to be an engineer since childhood, Sarah Malik feels she’s hit the pinnacle of her career by becoming an IET Fellow. She’s taken a leap into her first non-engineering role and now feels comfortable showing her feminine side, no longer feeling that she has to prove herself to the ‘boys’...

Introduction

Image of Sarah Malik FIET Focused on becoming an engineer from the age of 12, Sarah Malik is extremely proud of becoming an IET Fellow. Having worked her way up the career ladder at Rolls-Royce, she’s taking a leap by stepping into her first non-engineering role as part of the company’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption Team.

Feeling free to take on a career changing role

Her latest role is a complete change, but one she’s excited and interested in taking on. Gaining Fellow status has made her feel more comfortable in taking this risk, as she knows that having proved her standing means it won’t be tough for her to come back to her passion for engineering in the future.

“It’s had a bit of influence on the new job. Now I’m recognised and it’s acknowledged that I’m an engineer – and a good one – the fact that I’m taking a non-engineering job isn’t a concern,” she explains. “I can go back into (engineering) and it’s (professional recognition) not something I’m having to keep working towards.”

Joining the company’s graduate scheme post-university, Sarah has changed roles typically every two to three years when approached by one of her seniors with an opportunity. Over time she moved into management, with her last engineering role being engineering manager; overseeing teams who produce authorised technical instructions to carry out repairs on components from gas turbine engines.

This latest opportunity came about as Rolls-Royce took the initiative to set up a number of procedures and polices related to the upcoming UK Bribery Act that comes into force in April 2011.

“It has created a new team who are going to be writing, implementing and auditing those policies,” says Sarah. “It’s a big change for me but very exciting.

Over the 18 years Sarah has worked for Rolls-Royce, her roles have varied from hands-on engineering and project management through to being a director of operations and managing specific departments. She’s had the opportunity to work abroad on secondments in Canada and America, and although proud of her engineering decisions, she’s most proud of how she supported her engineers.

Proudest achievement – supporting fellow engineers

“I’m most proud of the work I’ve done with the teams who’ve worked with me. That's not something I even have to stop to think about,” she says.

“I’ve made a lot of good engineering decisions and changes; improvements and cost reductions to the business etc, but I’m most proud of the work I’ve done with people who’ve come to me for help and advice, either working for me or coming to me as a mentee,” she continues.

“I’ve made a point of being very open and honest with my team, very clear about objectives, progression and managing their own career. As part of that I’ve provided on the job training, and when they're ready to move on I’m very happy to help them to flap their wings and leave my department,” she enthuses. “I do a lot of CV preparation and interview help as well. Seeing people flourish and move on to bigger and better things is something I’m most proud of.”

Gaining professional recognition

Sarah has been an IET member her entire professional life. At first she didn’t feel she was gaining much from being part of the institution, but as she worked towards Chartership things fell into place. 

She thought her professional achievements would stop there and she’d never become a Fellow, mainly because she was no longer a ‘true’ engineer.

“I thought because I’m no longer a pure engineer - having moved into management – that it wasn’t an option for me,” she explains. “You make a decision during your career: do you want to go further into the management side or more into the deep engineering side? I’d already been given a management position many years ago so didn't think I’d ever get to that stage.”

Even so, when on secondment Sarah spent time with a colleague who was a Fellow and he encouraged her to apply. Two weeks after sending in her papers, her certificate arrived in the post.

 “It was absolutely incredible! I was so delighted when I got it, plus I was told I was only one of around 100 female Fellows in the UK.

What Fellowship means

“I feel great about my career now. Being a Fellow really means something; it says I’m actually good at what I do. I’ve never been bigheaded about what I’ve done over the years, but now I’ve got recognition that I can do a good job, and that I’m a real engineer,” she enthuses.

Now believing that she’s at the pinnacle of her career, Sarah has also felt that she can let her guard down and show her feminine side more openly in the workplace.

“Since I’ve become a Fellow I’ve allowed myself to be a bit more girly. You’ve always felt like you had to compete against the guys, as there are not many girls in an engineering company like this, certainly not in an engineering role.

“Since (my Fellowship) everything is pink!  My office is pink, I’ve even got a princess sticker on my laptop,” she laughs. “I’ve taken up ballroom and Latin dancing - I do girly things now! I feel like I can still be feminine even though I’m an engineer. Now I’m recognised by my peers I don’t feel I have to be such a tomboy anymore!”

Having wanted to be an engineer since childhood, Sarah Malik feels she’s hit the pinnacle of her career by becoming an IET Fellow. She’s taken a leap into her first non-engineering role and now feels comfortable showing her feminine side, no longer feeling that she has to prove herself to the ‘boys’...