Sometimes, technical work gets labeled “impersonal,” usually by those who don’t work in it. But as Victoria Snyder, Director of Engineering Planning and Control at Thales Group, will tell you, it’s the people-first nature of her work that makes it so rewarding.
“Being a people person, I love the fact that I get to interact with so many people and work with them to help resolve a variety of issues,” Snyder, an Air Force vet, said. “No two days are ever the same, and I am always learning new things.”
While she may be a “people person” in general, having the chance to work alongside so many other talented, motivated and kind women at Thales, she adds, is a special source of joy.
“I can honestly say that I am in this role, and have continued to succeed in this role, due to the support of several amazing women at Thales,” she said, adding that it’s not at all uncommon to find herself working primarily alongside other women. “As part of Thales’ ‘Be the Change’ initiative, I’m leading a project to improve one of our key processes. I’m working with a fantastic group of creative and talented engineers who were handpicked by their leadership – seven out of the 11 are women!”
Recently, Snyder told us more about how she’s benefited professionally from the company's empowering culture, her two most memorable pieces of career advice, and what “doing great work” really means to her.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been at Thales since March 2018. Previously, I was in the Air Force and then I worked for GE Transportation.
Describe what you do in one sentence.
My team is responsible for anticipating, aggregating and analyzing the resourcing needs of the engineering organization in order to fulfill our commitments to the business and ensure proper balance between the workload and capacity. We also support Hardware and Software Configuration Management (CM) of the systems and products developed by IFE in order to produce and deliver quality products that meet customer commitments and exceed expectations.
What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you?
In Engineering Operations, we support the Engineering teams across all programs and projects. Being a people person, I love the fact that I get to interact with so many people and work with them to help resolve a variety of issues. No two days are ever the same, and I am always learning new things.
How do you prioritize and deal with your to-do list each day?
Not well! But seriously, a challenge we all face lately is having more to do than can actually get done in the timeframe we should do it. For things that are most important, I will block my calendar with time dedicated to the task or set up meetings with people I need to support or will be asking for their support. For other tasks that are essential, I keep a list and check them off as I go. I can usually mentally prioritize, but I have been known to start numbering items when the list grows too long.
How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work?
I can honestly say that I am in this role, and have continued to succeed in this role, due to the support of several amazing women at Thales. I don’t build time in my schedule to help other women; it is part of my DNA — if you see a woman, say something to a woman (*smiley face*). No matter how busy I am, this is something I would rather be doing — getting to know the women around me, what they’re working on, how they feel about it and what I can do to support their journey.
How does Thales empower women who are pursuing careers in engineering?
I feel this company empowers women in engineering by ensuring an environment of respect, support and opportunity. As part of Thales’ “Be the Change” initiative, I’m leading a project to improve one of our key processes. I’m working with a fantastic group of creative and talented engineers who were handpicked by their leadership – seven out of the 11 are women!
Do you participate in any employee networks or programs for women in engineering?
Yes, I have done resume reviews at local colleges and supported several STEM events with my colleagues. It is so energizing to see the creativity of the young women (middle to high school) that attend the events. I don’t think I was as smart as they are when I was their age!
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Two things that are both life and career advice. First, the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Second, Make a Difference: Remember that every day, we all make a difference. Some days we make a positive difference and some days we make a negative difference. The goal is to net out at the end of our week/month/life — having made a positive difference.
What advice do you have for women in engineering who want to take their career path to the next level?
Do great work and build a reputation of delivering on your commitments. Consider what you want to do with your career and determine the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. Learn from and network with women and men who you consider smart and successful and who know your work. Ask for support and guidance when you need it.
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