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Elizabeth Daher

A Conversation with Elizabeth

What is your current job? Please list the title and briefly describe what it involves

I work at Amec Foster Wheeler’s nuclear business in Canada where I am a Section Manager for the Life Cycle & Asset Management group. Currently I am working in our office’s Corporate Development & Performance group as Program and Performance Manager. I report directly to the President & CEO, and support the office of the COO and the executive leadership team in coordinating and executing strategic programs in support of company operations. As part of this role, I lead the Communications Team, which is responsible for ensuring effective and streamlined dissemination of information across the company.

What made you want to pursue a career in engineering?

From a very young age, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut when I grew up. As a teen, I had the fortunate experience of meeting Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut. I asked her what I could do to follow in her footsteps, and to paraphrase, her response was: “get an engineering degree”. Engineering runs in my family (my father, grandfather, uncle, and great uncle were all electrical engineers) so it was already on my list of potential professions, and Dr. Bondar’s advice was the final push that I needed. My career trajectory has obviously changed quite a bit since then, but I’m still grateful for her guidance and the path that I have taken since.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

In my current role, I really appreciate the exposure that I have to all aspects of the business, outside of the technical areas. Working with executives on a regular basis has been eye-opening, giving me a new perspective on how high-level decisions are made and the impacts of different leadership styles. My favourite part of the job is the opportunity to bring the front-line perspective to the senior leadership team. I’m in a very unique position where I can help shape corporate strategy and direction, while taking into consideration the impacts of company initiatives on day-to-day operations. At the same time, I see first-hand how technical work impacts the company overall, so I have a very good view of how everything fits together. I believe that when I return to a supervisory role, I will be far better-equipped to handle both technical and managerial challenges by drawing on the insights I’ve gained while working on corporate strategy.

How do you celebrate National Engineering Month?

This month I kicked off the first of a series of Peer Mentorship sessions, an initiative through Nuclear Canada’s Gender Equity committee. I facilitated a workshop on Building Confidence, providing an opportunity for women across the company to discuss one of the barriers that often prevents us from advancing in technical and leadership roles. This aligned with International Women’s Day, on which I pledged to help women and girls achieve their ambitions as part of the Pledge for Parity campaign.

I’ve also volunteered with Professional Engineers Ontario York Chapter for several years, where I led the development and launch of the Engineering Project of the Year Award. The award recognizes outstanding technical projects within the community and showcases the achievements of local businesses, while promoting the practice of professional engineering. The annual award program just completed its fourth cycle and though I’ve passed on the leadership of this initiative, I continue to provide support and consultation to the team.

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

I’m sure it sounds cliché, but the simplest advice I can give is this: believe in yourself. This really is half the battle. Women are incredibly capable, but sometimes self-doubt can get in the way of pursuing our dreams. I believe that everyone can accomplish far more than they may realize. To quote a book that I frequently read to my son (The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman): “Whatever it is you choose to do, no one can do it exactly like you”. I want my kids to grow up believing this, but every time we read it I take it as a reminder for myself as well. I resist the urge to compare myself to others, and instead focus on my own unique set of strengths and abilities. This helps me feel confident and empowered, which translates into high performance and satisfaction at work.

For young women pursuing a career in engineering, and for any woman seeking to advance in her profession: recognize that you have something unique to offer, be confident in your abilities, and work diligently toward your goals.

Elizabeth’s BiographyElizabeth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. She is a licensed professional engineer with nearly 10 years of experience in the nuclear industry. She is currently a member of the Canadian Nuclear Association’s Nuclear Leadership Forum team to enhance the supply of skilled workers in the nuclear industry. Prior to taking on her current role, she was Section Manager, Life Cycle & Asset Management, responsible for a team of over 10 engineers and analysts delivering technical services in the areas of aging and asset management, equipment reliability, life cycle management and strategic planning, condition assessment, maintenance optimization, thermal performance, containment testing and inspection, and general support to client utilities. Elizabeth began her career at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, quickly establishing her expertise in Failure Mode and Effects Analysis and gaining valuable field experience working on outage campaigns at the Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station. Before joining Amec Foster Wheeler, she took a career break to explore South America and volunteer with a local Costa Rican charity.

Elizabeth lives in Oakville with her husband (also an engineer) and young son, and will soon be welcoming another addition to the family. In her free time, which she looks forward to finding again one day, she enjoys travel, photography, hiking, yoga, and distance running.

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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