Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee is a flight systems engineer at BAE Systems, having graduated from the University of the West of England with a master’s degree in aerospace systems engineering. Her role involves the design, development and support of a range of aircraft flight critical systems. She is an award-winning champion of Women in STEM as well as being an advocate of positive work/life balance and workplace flexibility.
“I’ve been told many times that I don’t look like an engineer…”
A problem-solving career
I wanted to become an engineer because I loved to solve problems! During school, I found science, maths and creative subjects like art really enjoyable and after visiting an air show with my family I was inspired to study aerospace systems engineering at university.
After initially struggling to find a job after university, I got my first engineering job working as a technical design engineer on civil aircraft interiors.
I was at that job for three years before moving to BAE Systems. I have been working at the company for almost seven years as a flight systems engineer on various fast jets.
The wonders of flexible working
My current role is to investigate different technologies that could be used on a next-generation fast jet. On a day to day basis, this involves a lot of researching, working with different suppliers, learning about the different technologies and liaising with colleagues such as design engineers, structural engineers and aerodynamicists.
Flexible working has definitely helped me maintain a work-life balance, especially with having a young child. It’s also enabled me to volunteer as a STEM ambassador and mentor for The Girls Network, which I find fulfilling. I also feel it has helped my development as an engineer.
Exchanging time spent commuting for something more productive
Personally, COVID-19 has had an overall positive impact on my working life. Since the first lockdown began, I have been working from home and, as I used to commute a long distance this has been beneficial and given me extra hours in the day which I made use of by volunteering and setting up my small business, AviateHer.
I’ve missed being in the office environment and the social aspects, but my team keep in touch regularly and we’re all doing the best we can, given the circumstances.
Using intersectionality to address inequalities in the workplace
Organisations are using intersectionality within diversity and inclusion initiatives to address inequalities within the workplace.
For me, this starts with open and honest conversations. I feel it is important to first recognise and understand the different experiences and issues faced by people before we can take action and work towards creating inclusive environments, ultimately attracting and maintaining a diverse workforce. Big problems can’t be solved without addressing the smaller inequalities that form the big problem.
My advice would be to make sure that there is a constant review of the steps that have been put into place to increase diversity and inclusion to ensure policies are up-to-date and to revise if they are not effective.
Feeling valued as a woman of colour
I do not feel that being a woman of colour has affected the job roles I have been in. My experiences have been working in great teams with shared common goals.
I am not afraid to voice my opinion or ask questions and I feel like a valued member of the team. I saw my parents work hard to build the life that they wanted after coming to the UK from Mauritius and that really inspired my work ethic and perseverance.
Creating pin badges for those who do not conform to the norm
I’ve been told many times that I don’t look like an engineer and this inspired me to design my first pin badge and set up my online shop called AviateHer.
Engineering is such a vast discipline and I have had many different people buying the pins, who do not conform to the typical stereotype of what an engineer looks like. I didn’t expect the response that they had, and I’ve since expanded for various careers in STEM, with more still to come!
The best part is being able to give back. With the sale of each pin part of the proceeds go to a charity that is working to increase diversity in a STEM field.
I’m really excited about my upcoming volunteering opportunities, adding more badges to AviateHer and I’m currently in the process of setting up a Community Interest Company that aims to benefit women in STEM!