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March 6, 2020
At Ansys, we have a lot to be proud of on International Women’s Day (IWD).
2020 Women on Boards, the advocacy group committed to increasing the percentage of women on company boards to 20%, or greater, by 2020, has recognized Ansys as a Winning “W” Company. Currently, 33% of our board seats are held by women. To put this in perspective, nearly one-fourth of U.S. public companies have no female representation on their boards.
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"We are honored to receive the 2020 Women on Boards award. Diversity and inclusion are part of the core business values that have enabled us to build a winning culture," said Ron Hovsepian, chairman of the board at Ansys. "Embracing diversity at all levels of the organization provides us a broader perspective of business issues, challenges and solutions. We benefit from having three talented women on our board to provide their valuable perspectives and experiences."
This commitment to diversity and inclusiveness can also be seen outside the boardroom. Every year, Ansys aims to grow our employee pool of women specializing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
To this end, I’d like to introduce you to five of our inspiring Women in Technology (WiT) members.
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Aleksandra Egelja-Maruszewski is a senior director at Ansys. Her interest in engineering began in childhood. She was born curious and eager to take on challenges and find ways to change the world.
Aleksandra Egelja-Maruszewski, senior director at Ansys
“I was curious how voices were traveling through the phone and how airplanes were flying through the air,” she says. “I loved math, science and solving challenging problems. But the main reason I went into this field was to make the world a better place and help people.”
Egelja-Maruszewski says that to be successful in a career, perpetual learning is key. As a result, she empowers those on her team to be comfortable with the idea of skills improvement. If people focus on what they are good at, they will enjoy what they’re doing.
“As a manager,” Egelja-Maruszewski said, “I look at everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to help them hone in on what they are good at and improve what they need to work on. I don’t expect perfection — when you’re learning you have setbacks. What matters is that you are learning, trying and being creative. When you think like that, setbacks are learning experiences — not failures.”
Egelja-Maruszewski extends this logic to the next generation. She volunteers time to spread knowledge and awareness of STEM careers to middle and high school students.
“Students need to understand where math and science are used,” she said. “Children possess complex thinking skills, but they need activities to develop them. Especially girls who have creative ways of thinking. We can lose girls in middle school if they’re scared into thinking their way of solving problems isn’t ‘standard.’ To help kids develop these skills, we must encourage them to ask questions and seek understanding, and pique their curiosity.”
Egelja-Maruszewski isn’t the only WiT member at Ansys helping to teach the next generation of STEM professionals. Pepi Maksimovic, a senior manager at Ansys, has also taken on this cause. As for her start in STEM, she explained to me how it started with the age-old question: Why?
Pepi Maksimovic, senior manager at Ansys
“I’ve always loved physics and other natural sciences because they helped me answer the ‘why’ questions I had about the world around me,” she says. “When this was combined with my interests in discovery and new technologies, STEM became a natural choice.”
To help promote STEM, Maksimovic volunteers her time to show kids how science extends beyond the school. The goal is to show them how science relates to what they do every day and what they do well.
“Think of it,” she says. “stretching playdough is akin to materials science testing. Similarly, building forts and sandcastles can help kids gain interest in civil engineering. This level of early exposure to STEM is critical, especially for girls in kindergarten to grade 8.”
Kids that understand how STEM relates to the things they love are more likely to pursue those interests from a technical frame of mind. Maksimovic says: “Children have an innate ability to learn and experiment when they play. So, when we teach them the math and science behind their explorations, it becomes an easy and logical bridge towards a love for STEM.”
Maksimovic agrees STEM opens up a world of opportunities: “It offers a wide range of careers and well-paying jobs. It improves not only your well-being, but the quality of human life in general.”
A STEM career was always in the cards for Sara Louie, manager at Ansys. Medicine was her first choice. However, she told me that her eventual path shocked her and her family.
Sara Louie, manager at Ansys
“I always thought I’d pursue a career in medicine,” she noted. “My father was a cardiologist and STEM subjects were my favorite classes in school. But when I discovered engineering in college, I decided on that instead. It turns out that I was born to be an engineer. I’m motivated to innovate toward the most elegant solutions that solve today’s technical and complex problems.”
Louie explains how her continuous learning contributes to the STEM field, “Every day I’m learning something new and teaching it to others. I nurture my relationships with my colleagues. Together, we add another building block toward something that will make things better tomorrow.”
This path has been very fulfilling for Louie and she notes that many young graduates and students aiming for a STEM career will find it equally fulfilling.
Saba Almalkie, a lead consulting engineer at Ansys, vividly remembers how her family’s stargazing sessions and love of fractals piqued her interest in STEM.
Saba Almalkie, lead consulting engineer at Ansys
She says: “One day, I read an article about the math behind fractals and it blew my mind. How can this complexity be presented with such simplicity? I was fascinated by the power and beauty of math.”
In high school this grew into a love for physics, fluids and thermodynamics. As a result, Almalkie majored in mechanical engineering.
“It wasn’t until grad school that I started thinking about using science and physics to improve everyday lives,” she said. “I looked for opportunities to use my knowledge, through engineering, to create innovations that impact lives and transform the world. When I finished my Ph.D., I decided to choose a career at Ansys where I could turn these innovations into reality.”
Almalkie believes that if you are curious, enjoy learning, have a knack for solving problems and want to make the world a better place then STEM is a good career — especially for women.
She says, “Analytical thinking and problem-solving are the most valuable skills that you develop through STEM educations and careers. These skills open the door to so many opportunities and help you become successful in a range of career choices.”
Finally, Almalkie notes that there are hurdles and difficulties along the path to a STEM career. However, women can overcome them and succeed.
“My advice is to be strong,” she says, “and believe in yourself and gather a good support group of colleagues and mentors that will reinforce this message. Having role models, leaders and pioneers in STEM is critical to pave the way for future generations.”
As for myself, Irsha Pardeshi, I’m a consulting engineer at Ansys. Like Almalkie, I always dreamed of traveling beyond the stars. So, I browsed NASA’s website throughout middle school (and to this day) in an effort to learn new things.
Irsha Pardeshi, consulting engineer at Ansys
As for my STEM career choices, they originate from my eagerness to learn and determination to solve problems.
I believe that by sharing knowledge we learn more in response. Therefore, I take every opportunity to volunteer and teach science activities to kids from kindergarten to grade 12. My message to these students is that whatever they pursue, especially in the STEM field, pursue it with passion and excellence.
The employees at Ansys take pride in recruiting and working with the best STEM talent. We abide by a culture of values that nurture employees to soar high in their careers. In that spirit, we wish all women in technology a happy International Women’s Day. We also invite you to, visit the Ansys careers page.
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