Engineers Week: Kelly Schable

Aerospace engineer Kelly Schable discusses how SWE has accelerated her career and refined her engineering skills.
Engineers Week: Kelly Schable

Name: Kelly Griswold Schable

Current Engineering Discipline: Aerospace Engineering

Current Title and Company: Regional Director, Airplane Features at The Boeing Company (SWE CPC Member)

Kelly Schable, Engineers Week, Society of Women engineers

HQ: How long have you been a SWE member?

KGS: 15 years

HQ: What prompted you to join SWE?

KGS: Meeting other female engineers in college

HQ: What is your favorite SWE resource? Networking, conferences, etc. – and why?

KGS: Conferences – all the networking, professional development, and catching up with my SWEsters!

HQ: How has SWE helped to shape your career?

KGS: SWE provided me many opportunities to refine both my leadership and soft skills in a safe environment. I believe I accelerated my career as I was able to practice and refine these skills at a faster rate than my colleagues.

HQ: What first got you interested in engineering?

KGS: I was interested and also excelled in math and science growing up but grew up in a really small town, so I had no idea what an engineer was. I had a special math teacher in high school who introduced me to the idea of engineering. I remember watching Top Gun and Space Camp as a kid and thought airplanes and spacecraft were really cool so why not look into it more. My teacher helped to raise money for me to go to an aerospace camp as a junior to learn more about it. It was fun and really challenging – I was sold! When I came back and told all my friends I wanted to be an engineer, they all thought I was going to drive a train!

HQ: What are some challenges and triumphs you’ve experienced, faced and overcome as a female engineer?

KGS: I would definitely say that you have to overcome being a minority in the field. My engineering class in college was roughly 10% female. Learning to work with nearly all males has been both a challenge and a good experience. My strengths are often their weakness and together we can become a really strong team.

HQ: How do you personally advocate for women engineers?

KGS: I do the majority of my advocating through sharing my experiences through presentations, panels, and papers at conferences and other events and through mentoring young girls and collegiate students. I was once told by a man that women often “eat their young,” so I have tried to do my best to bring women along with me on my journey.

HQ: What is your current and/or previous roles and responsibilities with SWE?

KGS: Current – Deputy Chair for the Society Nominating Committee: solicit, vet, and slate candidates for the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees; Past Roles – Director of Education on the Board of Directors,: lead the outreach initiatives for the society, the scholarship activities, graduate student initiatives, and counselor and faculty adviser involvement. Chair of the Collegiate Interests Committee (CIC): lead a committee to ensure the voice of the collegiate were heard throughout the society; Counselor Coordinator: lead all the counselor activities within SWE; Council of Representatives: represented by section as their delegate for bylaws changes and direction of mega issues; Section VP: lead all the professional development activities for the section; University of Washington Counselor – professional member who provided guidance and advice to the UW SWE section, PSEC rep.

HQ: What are you most excited about for 2016 as an engineer?

KGS: I really look forward to solving hard problems. I have a new job this year where we are starting up a new organization. I am really looking forward to building my team and tackling all the hard problems that have never been done before. The answers are not in the back of the book and it is fun to experiment and try new things (and hope to get it right the first or second time around).

HQ: What are you most looking forward to at WE16?

KGS: Seeing my SWE sisters and giving back to the society.

HQ: If you could give yourself one piece of advice to yourself when you first started your career, what would it be?

KGS: Don’t be in a hurry to get to a certain position. The most important part can be the journey along the way!