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Inspiring women lead the Thales business

 March 14, 2016

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Thales has many impressive women leaders running various parts of its engineering business. Amanda Cooper, is Head of the Engineering Capability Deployment at Thales, UK  and returned to Thales after her daughter was born and worked flexibly, fitting her role around her family commitments.

Describe your career path

I attended an all-girls Grammar school where I did really well in all the STEM subjects but (fortunately as it turned out) failed to get the A-Level results needed for automatic acceptance to my chosen University.  I decided that I didn’t want to move miles away from my family so looked for something locally that I would enjoy.  Twenty-six years later I have worked on some incredibly exciting projects such as the Typhoon fighter jet and mine-hunting sonar systems.  I have moved from software engineering into software management, then part-time resource management when my daughter was born.  From there I have project managed major UK-wide company transformation programs before moving back into engineering as the UK Head of Engineering Capability Deployment for Thales

Why did you choose this career path?

I didn’t really choose this career initially as I knew nothing about engineering; I just wanted to work with computers as I used to enjoy basic programming in my spare time.  The local Careers Advice Center told me about a sandwich Higher National Diploma in Software Engineering which sounded really interesting so I applied.  I found that doing a vocational course (specifically being trained for a profession) was far more rewarding than a pure academic subject as I was earning as I was learning and fell straight into a job with my sponsoring company after I was awarded a Distinction in my HND.
Looking back, what are the highlights in your career so far? Coming third in the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year award in 1999 presented me with a lot of opportunities and really opened my eyes to promoting engineering, especially to girls.  I am proud that I am now involved with sponsoring that award in 2016.

What are the major challenges of your job today?

The shortage of young Engineers coming into the profession is a huge concern.  Parents and young people don’t understand the vast range of careers open to engineers, and there is still a false perception of it being an ‘oily rag’ profession only suitable for boys.  In fact it is a massively diverse, exciting and challenging career. There is such a demand for engineers now and in the future that young people going into the profession will have a highly-paid, highly-respected career for life.  Our main challenge is getting that message across.

What’s next?

I have just registered as a STEM ambassador so I am looking forward to sharing my enthusiasm for engineering with young people in the near future.  I also hope to become a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Why should people consider a career in Thales?

Thales has supported my career since day one.  I have been allowed to work flexibly, fitting in around my family commitments.  I have put myself forward for my last three jobs, and been encouraged to stretch and challenge myself. In my current role as UK Head of Engineering Capability Deployment I can say that Thales is doing more than ever before to grow and develop employees, actively matching people to roles that would suit them, identifying and exploiting top talent, and growing new skill sets to match the rapid pace of today’s technological advancements. Thales are world leaders in technology and innovation - why wouldn’t you want to work for them? Experienced women are joining Thales to develop their engineering careers.

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