“Cindy Hoover Lives, Learns and Leads as New SWE President” was written by Sandra Guy, SWE Contributor.
Cindy Hoover, F.SWE, president for fiscal year 2020, is dedicated to fulfilling the Society’s vision of a world with gender parity and equality in engineering and technology.
Hoover has been a SWE member for 30 years, having held leadership positions at the collegiate, local, regional, and Society levels. In addition to serving as a region governor and chair of the finance committee, she was treasurer on the SWE board of directors and a member of the board of trustees.
With the theme “We Live. We Learn. We Lead.” as inspiration, Hoover is calling on her past experiences from SWE, which include friendships, networking, mentorship, continuous learning, professional development, and an excellent environment for learning leadership skills. She aims to ensure that SWE provides an inclusive environment for its members and that it continues to lead in mentoring and supporting women in their engineering careers.
From an operations standpoint, Hoover said that after years of restructuring, she would like to see SWE’s committees work together in the most effective way.
“I want to see the standing committees work closely with each other, headquarters, and the board of directors, since we’ve given them important leadership roles,” she said. Toward that goal, SWE is holding a committee training session so that chairs can discuss their goals and how each of their committees can help each other reach the Society’s operational objectives.
Hoover, the vice president and chief engineer for operations at aerospace manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems, would also like to utilize SWE’s expertise to help other associations, universities, and companies improve the diversity in their organizations and ensure an inclusive environment for women entering engineering and other STEM fields.
One idea would be for SWE to provide a diversity and inclusion (D&I) certification based on criteria around diversity metrics, range of benefits, and workplace offerings such as mother’s rooms and flexible hours.
“The board will be discussing these types of ideas with our corporate partners to gage interest,” Hoover said. SWE already provides many tools for its members, including webinars, workshops with instructor manuals, and D&I cards that can help jump-start conversations about diversity and inclusion.
“I am passionate about helping women achieve their potential, and as the president of SWE, I am not only a sponsor, but also a role model and champion for women in the engineering profession,” said Hoover, who grew up in Salina, Kansas.
She said her parents always encouraged her to follow her own path, even though engineering wasn’t considered a typical profession for women. She also credits her high-school physics and calculus teachers with giving her invaluable support and help in deciding to pursue engineering.
“I am passionate about helping women achieve their potential, and as the president of SWE, I am not only a sponsor, but also a role model and champion for women in the engineering profession.”
– Cindy Hoover, F.SWE, FY20 SWE President
Hoover earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, with a focus on power systems, from Wichita State University, and her executive MBA from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. She joined SWE as a sophomore at Wichita State, and immediately appreciated the support her newfound network provided.
“There were only four women in my engineering class, so SWE proved to be a great way to meet people,” Hoover said. She became treasurer of her SWE collegiate section and went on to join the Wichita Section, where she served in a series of leadership roles, including president. Hoover credits her SWE network with helping her land a new job, after spending eight years in the oil and gas industry. The new role at LSI Logic proved to be a big boost to Hoover’s career and also provided a mentor and sponsor in her manager, Anne Martin, P.E.
After 29 years, three companies, three different industries, and 16 different roles, Martin would prove to be the only female manager in her career. “She was a fantastic mentor and sponsor,” Hoover said of Martin. “She has inspired me throughout my career.”
Hoover, who has worked in a variety of roles, including project and program management, Six Sigma, operations management, engineering support, and executive leadership, said she hopes to similarly inspire other women to get out of their comfort zones and take risks. “If you want to take on leadership roles,” she said, “you need to broaden your skills, continue to learn throughout your career, and challenge yourself to take new opportunities.” One way to do that is to get engaged in SWE.
“The strength of SWE is in the connections you make and the network you build,” Hoover said. SWE is also an excellent source for building professional development and leadership skills through the Advance 2.0 learning center or via the WE Local and annual conferences.
Hoover also urges others to recognize the value of work and life balance and the need for taking time for oneself.
“Raising three boys to adulthood hasn’t always been easy,” she said. “I have a wonderful husband of 29 years (Bryan), who’s done a lot of that heavy lifting.”
One of Hoover’s tips is that a family vacation is not a great way to unwind. “Bryan and I do our own vacations sometimes. We’ll go on a boys’ trip or a girls’ trip to relax,” she said. “You don’t need to be super-mom or super-wife or super-friend. You have to take some time for yourself and de-stress.”