GE Hewar Week for Women: Inspired by International Women’s Day – part 1
One hundred years ago, the place of women in society was very different from what we see today.
Political life, higher education and many professions were all but closed for half of the world’s population. In the 20th century, a long, hard struggle for equality bore fruit, and today, in the 21st century we almost take for granted the remarkable advances and achievements women have made. Throughout the world, from the West, to the Middle East and across Asia, we now have women prime ministers and presidents, as well as CEOs, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and even soldiers, astronauts and pilots.
But despite these advances, there is still much work to be done. In many parts of the world, women still find the doors to education and fulfilling careers firmly shut. And, throughout the world, women are still under-represented in our boardrooms and in politics.
For almost a century, March 8 has been celebrated as International Women’s Day – a day to remember the ongoing fight for equality, as well as day to reflect on the achievements and progress made so far. In that light, GE Hewar this week will be dedicated to the stories of some of the pioneering women who have forged successful, rewarding careers at GE in the Middle East.
Sandra Aziz, Commercial Quality Leader for GE Energy Middle East Region
Engineering in the Middle East is one area that is no longer male dominated like it was in the past, Sandra Aziz tells us more about that. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, Sandra started her career in GE as an intern in 2004. In 2005 she joined GE’s Field Engineering program in the US, coming back to the region a year later as the first female field engineer in the Middle East for GE. This is a significant feat as she faced the challenges working not only in a male dominated field but also a culturally sensitive region, where women are generally not accepted as site engineers.
This didn’t deter her one bit, and she later joined Power Generation services as a Black Belt where she led Six Sigma activities aimed at improving processes and operating rhythm across several business wide initiatives and critical projects, and finally moved on to become the Commercial Quality Leader for Energy. In this role, she drives commercial and operational excellence with responsibilities including sales force effectiveness, CLP program management and customer satisfaction and issue resolution process improvements.
Sandra says her inspiration, ambition and drive was nurtured by another GE pioneer, Anne McAntee, the GM for a GE business in Oil & Gas, who mentored and encouraged her throughout her career.
But what advice does Sandra have for women looking to start out on an ambitious career path? “Be professional, love what you’re doing, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.”