Lauren McMullan studied Product Design and Engineering in an innovative course provided jointly by Glasgow University and the Glasgow School of Art. Subsequently, during her Masters in Design Management at the University of Cambridge she first worked extensively within the industry, helping a lab operation scale-up to production capacity. She spent eight years in a design management role with a large beauty brand before getting back into STEM with SharkNinja in 2016, now leading the London team as General Manager.
Words by Lauren…
It is commonly said that it takes a village to raise a child. Reflecting on my career, I believe this is applicable to the uptake of STEM subjects by young adults. An introduction to the industry begins with education and encouragement both at school and at home from surrounding role models.
Most of my female peers have at least one parent or close role model who works in an engineering or technical role. These positive influences are essential to overcoming the typical barriers and perceptions about the possibilities in STEM subjects.
With a variety of different roles and areas of focus, there is vast opportunity to achieve success in the STEM industry from a variety of study paths. For example, within our team at SharkNinja’s London office, I am surrounded by experts who have backgrounds in Product Design, Mechanical & Hardware Engineering and Technical Project Management. We have all graduated from different programs and taken different educational and professional paths to be here.
I even spent time in the advertising and beauty industries before finding my way to STEM and as I look at my colleagues in the industry, it is amazing to see that the culture facilitates such passion and a genuine engagement in our daily work. I believe this is the nature of the STEM disciplines and have seen this specifically through my experience pursuing a career in product development.
It would be amiss to say that developing a career in STEM as a woman comes without challenges, but it also offers incredible rewards and the opportunity to thrive as well. I am grateful to have been surrounded by people who have supported and encouraged my career in the industry and would encourage any school or university age student considering a career in STEM to apply yourself to the possibility.
My advice is to seek out placements and submit as many applications as possible for work experience. Be hungry and adaptable to understand what does and does not appeal to your interests and strengths. Don’t worry too much about getting it exactly right the first time! STEM education is widely recognised as a strong and rigorous foundation for many career options you may end up pursuing. Finally, look for the people in your network who offer encouragement and inspire you to find the possibilities of a career in STEM. If you are already a member of the STEM industry share what inspires you and be that person who encourages others with a reminder that it takes a village for our industry to grow.