Engineering helps develop a growth mindset – and opens unexpected opportunities

Posted: June 21, 2019

Lisa Johnston, Chief Marketing Officer at AVEVA, is a chemical engineering laureate and global technology leader with over twenty years of executive experience in technical and marketing leadership roles. Lisa supports AVEVA’s growth through global customer and prospect engagement, go-to-market initiatives and brand development.

In our exclusive interview for Women in Engineering Day, Lisa reflects on her studies in engineering and shares how the lessons she learned as an engineer provided a foundation for a wide variety of career accomplishments.

Q: What did you enjoy most about your engineering studies?

A: Engineering set me up for lifelong learning. It’s a field that is constantly evolving through innovation and invention, demanding that engineers stay current. I have a passion for learning, discovery and sharing leading-edge best practices. This fits well in technology, engineering, and marketing.

Marketing is similar to engineering: there are always new techniques and best practices evolving and shared among robust communities of marketers, as well as new tools and solutions being launched to serve the marketing profession. For example, marketers can leverage big data and analytics to best understand the digital behaviors and needs of our customers, and AI for personalization of offers.

Sustainability and renewable energy are a passion and focus area for me. I’ve had the privilege of visiting a nuclear accelerator, wind and solar production facilities, and the honor of serving in IBM’s Smarter Cities executive service corps to join with a community in Queensland, Australia to apply technology to solve sustainability challenges.

These hands-on experiences enabled me to explore, and understand how things work. They are great examples of how engineering led me to find new passions.

I am proud to have joined AVEVA, a company that creates industrial software that inspires people to shape the future. We use collaborative innovation to empower people and industries, enabling the planet to thrive. We have an important program call Action for Good, that supports employee community projects that connect them with the places and people where we live and work.

Q: How does your engineering background better equip you in your daily task as CMO?

A: Marketing is a wonderful mix of creativity and scientific rigor. That’s why I love it. So, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that both of those disciplines are reflected in engineering too.

As a chemical engineer, you are routinely handling complex data and information. Early-on in my career in tech, I had the privilege to witness how powerful it is when technology synthesizes data to illustrate trends and identify opportunities. This data, combined with meaningful analytical tools, now gives engineers the information they need to make the best possible decisions around complex chemical processes, more quickly than ever.

It is hugely exciting for engineers today because we have incredible new capabilities at our fingertips. Innovative technology and tools enable us to analyze more data, more quickly and benefit from comprehensive results.

It’s such a fast-paced field and it’s exciting that so much of the innovation is being led by industrial companies who are really pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve. It’s an endlessly evolving and fascinating field.

Q: What is your advice for aspiring female engineers or women just getting started in the engineering field?

A: I believe that we must “do the work” – meaning striving to be excellent in what each of us is doing every day, as well as aspiring to even greater contributions in the future. This helps each of us establish our personal credibility and a positive track record of achievement, and prepare for what comes next. Being excellent now is the best foundation for being excellent tomorrow.

A career as an engineer can take you to lots of different places – engineering, marketing, sales, law, or research. Studying engineering is your chance to be part of one of the most exciting disciplines on the planet. I find it is not only intellectually stimulating but also great fun.

So, if I can sum up three things, it would be to strive for excellence, embrace the opportunities that engineering can offer, and be open to ideas. Being an engineer can take you in all sorts of directions that you never imagined!

Lisa is co-sponsor of the Diversity in Technology networking at the AVEVA World Summit 2019 this September in Singapore. Join her and Ayesha Khanna, CEO of ADDO.AI to benefit from the inspirational insights of these two global executive leaders. Register to be part of the Summit today.

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