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Prodrive celebrates International Women In Engineering Day 2024

NasserAl-Attiyah & Edouard Boulanger's Prodrive Hunter throws up dirt from the front wheels in a wide spray behind the car as it powers along a muddy and rutted track during Rally Raid Portugal 2024. The dirt almost hides the back of the car.
Abi Holloway, Project Engineer works with Prodrive's GT racing programme to improve cars performance.

Prodrive is proud to be a Women’s Engineering Society partner to help us maximise the opportunities for women in Motorsport and STEM. Being a partner helps our female talent thrive. Prodrive is committed to building winning teams and attracting and nurturing the best talent to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

To celebrate International Women In Engineering Day we brought three female engineers and Women Engineering Society members from across the Prodrive Group to share their engineering journey.

Here’s what Paula Espinel Bueno (PB) - Design Engineer, Prodrive Composites, Abi Holloway (AH) - Project Engineer, Prodrive Motorsport, and Paula Stevenson (PS) - Chief Transformation Officer, Prodrive Holdings had to say.

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?


I always liked understanding how technology worked and how it’s used to solve problems. For me, engineering has a lot to do with how creativity and technical principles join, so it seemed a fun path to develop my career.


From a very young age, I spent a lot of time taking things apart to figure out how they worked, which was luckily encouraged due to my father, grandfather and uncle being engineers. I have a distinct memory around the age of 9, of racing a quadbike around and creating tracks. But I was always willing for it to break somehow so I could try to fix it and make it better.


I grew up in a family of Engineers – mostly Civil, Structural and Highway engineers, so seeing first hand what it could involve helped to inspire me to want to do something similar. My school also encouraged all its students to strive for what they really wanted to do. More girls ended up doing STEM-related careers than the norm – we didn’t realise it wasn’t the norm until we left school, so I look back with thanks for the encouragement!

2. How did you start your career as an Engineer?


I was fortunate to be the first Degree Apprentice Engineer at Prodrive, which allowed me to gain valuable knowledge from industry experts as well as learn the theoretical side from academic experts.


Completing a Masters in Mechanical Engineering gave me the opportunity to do different modules at University in my last 2 years. It allowed me to get involved in industrial and manufacturing engineering, and that led the way into supply chain management. My first job at Honda of the UK Manufacturing placed me in the Inbound Supply Chain Team and I haven’t looked back. It’s great to have a career with similar characteristics to engineering (finding elegant solutions for problems) and to work alongside Engineers every day.

3. What do you enjoy about being an Engineer or what is your biggest achievement or project since working at Prodrive?


Engineering reflects wider society. Every project is different and there are always different challenges to face and new things to learn within the industry.


My biggest achievement is leading the Prodrive Racing Simulator project. Getting the first prototype made with the team and then getting it to production was a huge but rewarding challenge.


I’m most proud to be able to continue to be a Mentor at my old school, as part of the Prodrive Volunteering Scheme. I mostly get paired with students who are interested in an engineering career. Supporting them in deciding what engineering discipline to choose, whether to complete a degree or apprenticeship is very rewarding.

4. How can we attract and encourage more women into Engineering?


We need a bigger spotlight on women in engineering to show younger generations that it is possible to live their dream of being an engineer. Sometimes it can be an intimidating sector to work in, but we need to challenge any preconceptions. The pathways to get there are available.


STEM events and actively participating in them is important. I was asked to present to ~200 junior school pupils on the subject of, ‘What types of Engineers do you work with?’ Talking to them about the diversity of types of engineering and the projects they could be involved in was a great experience.

I have the record for ‘most questions asked’ for this regular session that runs at the school. Everything from, ‘Do you need to wear your hair up at work?’ to ‘What’s your view on the future of electric vehicles?’.

Paula Stevenson is also a judge at the 2024 Top 50 Women In Engineering Awards.


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