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Graciela Pieruz, Principal Process Engineer

Graciela always wanted to be a footballer from a young age but whilst this wasn't to be, she believes that the football allowed her to develop her imagination whilst building up a goal. Graciela knew that by combining her 2 favourite things at school - chemistry and technical drawing - she could become a Chemical Engineer, and now works for Atkins working to design a cleaner and safer world.

Age: 43

Job title: Principal Process Engineer

Company employed by: Atkins

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
An engineer.

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
The design and build of nuclear plants - a positive step towards the Zero Net Carbon target by 2050.

What excites you most about STEM?
STEM involves fun from all angles: Science to innovate, Technology to build, Engineering to design and Mathematical to play with.

What do you love about your job? What would you change?
I love the meaning of my job, the drive we all have and our aim that can be achieved by designing things, to make a cleaner and safer world. I would change the incentives balance to be less focused on money and more on safety.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
The development of the team. Watching people grow in confidence as their career progresses.

What does a typical day at work involve?
Emails, projects tracking, talking to people to agree steps forward, arranging meetings, calculations, drawings to agree.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
People's conflicts and working to resolve them.

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
I didn't have any role models. I grew up in a family of non-engineers. I always loved the subject so I thought why not give it a go!

Any influential toys during childhood?
A football – allowed me to develop my imagination whilst building up a goal. A basketball – taught me I did not have to be the tallest in a giant’s world to conduct the orchestra.

Your favourite subjects at school?
Chemistry and technical drawing. Hence my choice of chemical engineering.

Qualifications (school/college/university):
School GCSEs, College A-levels, University MSc and PhD.

Tell me about your career path to date?
I was very frustrated in my own country for not being able to get a stable and decent paid job so I moved to Germany where I could undertake an industrial placement and gain some experience working on the job. I then moved to the UK for my postgraduate studies and liked it enough to stay in this country to carry on working here.

If you could have any job what would it be? How does it differ from what you’re doing?
I would have liked to have been in sports, especially football. But I was never a good enough player to become a footballer.

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?
It does not matter who you are or how you are, there will be always something that you will enjoy and will feel like a natural fit. Just keep searching till you find it.