Experiences

Silvia Diaz, project manager at SENER Aerospace

With nearly 30 years of experience in the Aerospace sector, Silvia Díaz began her career as a project engineer at SENER Aerospace and is now a project manager in the areas of Space and Defense.

She is one of our interviewees in #SENEREQUAL.

Silvia Díaz, Project Manager at SENER AeroespacialSilvia, you got your degree in software engineering from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and you studied a Management Development program at IESE. For 14 years, you have managed Space and Defense projects at SENER Aerospace. What attracted you to the scientific-technological sector?

I got into the sector a bit by chance. At the age of 18, few people have a clear calling in life, and I was no exception. I was good at science, the SW Engineering program was just starting up and it seemed to offer quite a few career opportunities.

Was there anyone who inspired you?

Not in my case. My father was a doctor, my mother had a costume shop and, of my siblings, I'm the only one in the science-technology sector.

As you look to the future, in what areas would you like to keep making progress, what challenges do you face?

Personally, I really like everything related to the digital transformation, Big Data and artificial intelligence. They have enormous potential and applications in a lot of fields.

My current professional challenge is the project I'm involved in: the development and qualification of the new navigation unit for the VEGA-C launcher, NAVIGA. The navigation unit, a six-axis compass, is what provides the rocket's position (position and attitude of the launcher) to the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system, developed by AVIO, and it's necessary to steer the rocket. NAVIGA is thus a critical component to the success of the mission.

In the engineering field and, in particular, in the Space and Defense sectors, it used to be rare to see a woman in a work meeting; now it's commonplace and they are highly appreciated.Silvia Díaz

It has been proven that diverse and inclusive work teams are best at leveraging each individual's personal capabilities within the group. They foster innovation and are beneficial for project development. From your point of view, what role do women play in the field of engineering?

I don't think there's a difference between the role that men and women play in engineering, beyond the many benefits of having a diverse and varied team in any job.

Do you think that structural changes are needed in how work is organized to make sure that everyone, regardless of age or gender, can contribute and collaborate in a team?

More than structural changes to how work is organized, I think it's necessary to talk about changes in people's mentality, and in this regard, we've come a long way. In the engineering field and, in particular, in the Space and Defense sectors, it used to be rare to see a woman in a work meeting; now it's commonplace and they are highly appreciated.

Education is essential to advance personally, professionally and socially. As a professional, what advice would you give an 18-year-old girl who is about to start college and doesn't know what field to go into?

I would tell her to choose a major that you are good at, that offers multiple job opportunities... She can decide what to specialize in when she finishes. What really determines your professional career are your first few jobs: the sector you work in, the department you join, the job position...

Covid-19 has forced us to suddenly change how we work, and I think that the processes need time to finish adjusting, but we'll get there.Silvia Díaz

We're speaking on the occasion of International Working Women's Day. What would you share with other women to help them advance professionally and to strike a work-life balance?

I think women have many abilities that are necessary in any work team, opportunities that must be put to good use.

Work-life balance is relevant to both men and women. In the end, you have to strike a balance that begins with yourself and involves your family, and then there's the company. The digital transformation offers tools that can help achieve this balance.

To what extent do you think the digital transformation can help us move forward in striking a work-life balance?

The digital transformation, understood as the possibility and the means to work remotely, has many advantages, especially when you have young children, since it lets you be at home more, where your family can feel your presence, and all this helps with the work-life balance. On the other hand, the working hours are longer and it's harder to disconnect from work. Covid-19 has forced us to suddenly change how we work, and I think that the processes need time to finish adjusting, but we'll get there.

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