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Meet Annelies Tjebbes

A Conversation with AnneliesWhat is your current job? Please list the title and briefly describe what it involves

I am the Community Impact Director with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) – I manage the strategy and team who are working to bring the EWB leadership model (Systems Change Leadership) to scale. As a member of the senior leadership team, I provide support to EWB’s in-Canada operations and chapters from a strategic perspective, and I am also leading the organization’s strategy to reach 30,000 Systems Change Leaders by 2020.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

I have always been intrigued by how things work. Whether it was taking apart pens and alarm clocks growing up, or being intrigued by social challenges in our world, I’ve always had a desire to engage with the world and really understand what makes everything tick. I also have a passion for contributing to society and feel that engineering is a phenomenal opportunity to make this contribution as it is such a vital profession contributing to tackling societal issues.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is working with people. Many people think engineering is just about understanding how technology or systems work, but I think there’s a lot to engineering great relationships and great solutions to societal challenges as well. I love looking at small and large systems and how all of the people within them are connected and interact, and how I could seek to improve those interactions.

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

Engineers Without Borders is really active in promoting National Engineering Month, raising awareness about the profession, and tackling some of the societal misconceptions about engineering. I am excited to partake in some of these events, and also use this opportunity as a reminder to my friends, family and peers of the pivotal role that engineering can play in society, and how we can all work to improving this role, and the valuable contribution it can make.

What advice do you have for young women who hope to pursue a career in your field?

Women have an immense amount to bring to the profession, and we need more amazing leaders like you to join! It’s a lot of fun, and there’s so much more to engineering than what’s shown from the surface. If you’re passionate about a societal issue, you can champion that as an engineer!

AND… Don’t accept the status quo! Don’t accept any box that you get put into as a female engineer, any stereotypes you are supposed to fall into, or any behaviours from others that make you feel uncomfortable. There are people around to support you, so seek that out! Be your unique, courageous, brilliant self, every single day, no matter what!

Annelies’ BiographyAnnelies Tjebbes’ (BASc ’12 Electrical Engineering – Biomedical Option) passion for engineering stems from her desire to solve challenging problems and discover ways to apply her systems thinking approach to contribute to her global community. Throughout her education at UBC, Annelies was recognized for her commitment to Engineers without Borders and her outstanding academic achievements with awards including the Outstanding Future Alumnus Award from the Faculty of Applied Sciences. Her desire to make the world a better place and reduce injustices launched her into her career path as a Biomedical Engineer with a social conscience. Annelies worked for two years at StarFish Medical developing medical innovations with a focus on user experience and user needs. She is now applying her engineering training in addressing social challenges through the work of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). She works full time with EWB at their National Office in Toronto as the Community Impact Director leading a team in the strategic goal of supporting Systems Change Leadership to tackle societal challenges. In her spare time Annelies loves putting her creative side to use, and also stays healthy playing soccer and riding her bike!

Learn more about Annelies’ work

A few blog posts written by Annelies:

Polarity Thinking in Medical Device DevelopmentIterations of a Medical Device Career PathMedical Device Usability EngineeringOptimizing Medical Device Design Innovation AND ValueEmbracing Failure in the Medical Device Industry


Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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