Dr. Ozak Esu is an Electrical Engineer at Cundall, a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy. Working within Building Services, she undertakes surveys of existing buildings and coordinates electrical services for new buildings, refurbishment, and fit-out projects.
Esu is a lighthearted individual with a childlike smile. Having entertained us in her hotel room for this interview, her eyes sparkled as she told the story of her journey to winning the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2017.
What personal goal have you crushed as an engineer?
[My top crushed goal was] passing my Ph.D. in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the age of 24 while holding down a full-time job in a completely different area of engineering. As a graduate engineer new to Building Services Engineering, I wanted to be up-to-date on every building regulation, legislation, British standard, and to be proficient in every single software necessary to stand out in my role.
But because I had to share my time between my day job and completing my Ph.D., I was unable to have it all. It was a grueling phase and I had to reassure myself that I will succeed at it all eventually.
The experience taught me my strengths. I am ambitious, a high-achiever, competitive, hardworking, disciplined, and efficient at organizing, prioritising and managing my time and personal development.
I also learnt to be more realistic in setting targets and goals for myself.
What do you find creative and exciting about your career?
The diversity of projects I get involved in and the different project teams I get to collaborate with excite me. Developing a new method, improving an existing engineering method, mastering a new software, technique, opportunities to travel for work, and successfully managing a project from concept design to construction also excite me about my job.
Did you foresee that you would win The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards?
I did not foresee winning the award but I thought I should take my chance by applying. If you’re not in it, you cannot win it!
How have you felt since winning this award?
Winning the award felt incredible. At the time I applied, I was undecided about the notion of awards that recognise the achievements of women only. I understood that there are several challenges and barriers women face working in a predominantly male-dominated industry like engineering, but I did not understand how an award addresses the problem.
Since winning the award, I am convinced that these awards play a part in helping to attract and retain more young women in the profession by promoting the achievements of female role models across the industry.
I have received messages from young women and men from across Africa, Europe, North and South America who have been inspired to forge ahead with their ambitions in engineering.
Would you recommend this career path?
Engineering is a prestigious career with diverse routes and global opportunities that encourages individuality, creativity, ingenuity and collaboration.
Knowing that the work you do contributes to the betterment of society is an added privilege worth experiencing. What do you think about the importance of mentorship and encouraging more participation in STEM fields?
I think mentorship and encouraging more participation in STEM is very important for the continuity and benefit of the industry.
As professionals in engineering, we are all role models who can inspire others to join the profession by being engaging living examples, and by creating inclusive and equal opportunities for all.