A day in the life of... A woman engineer

Sajni blog piece

23 June 2023

Author: Sajni Halai, QEPrize Ambassador


To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2023, we spoke with QEPrize Ambassador, Sajni Halai, about what a day in her life is like as a woman engineer.

Hi Sajni! To start, could you please tell us the journey you took to get to your current role?

The journey to my current role has been an exciting one! My current role as Early Life Cycle Manager, in the Reliability Maintenance Engineering team at Amazon, was shaped by my six years’ experience within the automotive industry working on improvement projects in maintenance, commissioning new technology and managing quality.

Did you always want to be an engineer?

My background in engineering has been invaluable in my current role, allowing me to solve complex problems and work with a great team to deliver high standards and results. The fast-paced nature of the team has provided me many opportunities to grow and get involved in various activities such as new technology and process introduction, improving maintenance activities and ensuring safe deployment of launch buildings globally.

What does your typical day involve?

The diverse nature of my role makes each day different, with different challenges and a new sense of achievement. At Amazon, every day is Day 1! I start my day with reviewing the stages of my projects, lead project meetings, highlight risks and work with a range of stakeholders to create risk mitigation plans.

After lunch I may start to work with the team to complete the actions that originate from the plan, assigning responsibility and setting deadlines. I may consult subject matter experts to provide input to ensure robust outcomes.

I finish up my day with providing summaries, reflecting on the day’s goals, ensuring all major deadlines are met and assigning priority to tasks for the day after.

A typical day doesn’t always have to be in the office. It could involve visiting sites across Europe, such as in Spain and Italy, working with diverse teams to successfully launch fulfilment centres and reviewing process improvement initiatives to streamline delivery.

Fulfilment centres are centres where employees pick, pack and ship customer orders across the world. In some cases, robots do a lot of the work and this is where the innovation of designing and developing high class equipment is required to deliver your parcels in prime time.

I work with field teams to assess launch progress, evaluate impact of process efficiencies and write business proposals to request for budget allocation. I work with over 10 different teams to mitigate various risks related to cost, quality, safety, sustainability and delivery to ensure successful launches.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love working with a diverse team where I learn different ways of solving problems, liaising with a range of stakeholders and implementing engineering best practices across my projects. I enjoy learning about different areas and expanding my knowledge of different technologies and driving a sustainable safety culture.

The culture and values of the team promote continuous development and learning which is a perfect fit for my “I get bored quickly” personality. In addition, I enjoy mentoring and supporting other engineers to achieve their goals which makes my role really rewarding.

What does it mean to be a woman engineer in your opinion?

When working in a diverse team, women should actively advocate for other women, this promotes the ability to grow a network where women can mentor others and not see each other as competition.

What is top of your priority list at the moment?

My top priority is to ensure safety boards for launch buildings are rolled out across all of our building types and with the approval of all relevant teams. Safety boards ensure contractor and maintenance activities are tracked and the LOTO (Lock Out Tag Out) process managed effectively. To achieve this I liaise with procurement on the designs, safety for sign off and ensure the boards are scalable to meet the needs of my customers.

Are there any challenges in your role?

During the launch phase of a building there are some risks that are identified which require more negotiation with stakeholders to resolve in time for the launch, due to budget availability or resource allocation. In these challenges, I have to work harder to push the relevant resolutions, providing deeper justification to ensure the building receives the requested changes in time.

What are the best parts about your day?

Best things about my day include working with a great team, with a similar mindset of continuously improving and supporting each other to grow. The Amazonian principles help us unite and work towards achieving common goals. We have a Team of Teams approach where there is no barrier to gain team support in achieving goals or even leveraging off another’s network to resolve actions quicker. The best things about working in a global team include travelling to new places, learning about new cultures and sharing experiences, that have contributed to building the strong team I am in now.

What advice would you give anyone looking to become an engineer or get into the reliability maintenance engineering industry?

Take a leap of faith, apply and be part of such an incredible team! Working in the reliability maintenance engineering industry, you will be able to be part of a team delivering cutting edge technology and processes. A place where you can be creative, learn something new every day and work on projects that make a significant impact to cost, quality, safety and reliability.

You can learn more about the human stories behind engineering, and where a career in the field can take you, in the free new Engineers gallery at the Science Museum. Open to the public from Friday 23 June 2023.

More on the author, Sajni Halai, QEPrize Ambassador

Sajni is the Early Life Cycle Manager, in the Reliability Maintenance Engineering team at Amazon.

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