Subverting stereotypes in marine engineering
4 min read
02 Sep 2020
4 min read
02 Sep 2020
Field Service Manager Selma Selamet says the low female-to-male ratio in engineering careers is one of the things that has inspired her to succeed.
Selma Selamet, Field Service Manager, West Europe & Africa, Wärtsilä, didn’t always see herself as an engineer. Growing up, she didn’t have a clear idea of what engineers did. She was interested in design and initially planned to become an architect. But in high school, she took higher level classes in mathematics, physics and graphic design and discovered that many of her classmates were planning to study engineering at university.
“I looked into engineering and one thing that stood out was the fact that the female-to-male ratio in engineering related careers was extremely low,” Selamet says. “This was when I changed my mind and decided to study mechanical engineering at university. I saw it as a challenge.”
Opportunities for growth
After graduation, she chose to join Wärtsilä in part because of the opportunities the marine industry offers for engineers.
“The marine industry is a forever developing field where new technologies are welcome and I wanted to be a part of it,” she says.
Working at Wärtsilä has offered Selamet a wide range of possibilities for professional growth. Selamet spent her first years at the company as a design engineer and had the chance to spend six months on a secondment in Gothenburg, Sweden.
”This was a brilliant opportunity for me to live and work abroad for a period of time. I learnt so much about myself and became more confident as a person,” Selamet says.
That confidence has been critical for Selamet as a woman working in a male-dominated field, particularly after she moved from design engineering into field service.
“I was extremely worried about being accepted within my team when I first started (as the only female engineer in the room). However, my team was extremely supportive,” Selamet says.
That hasn’t always been the case in the field, however.
“When I used to travel on site for field service-related work, I often instantly got a feeling when I arrived at the shipyard or on the vessel that the clients were wondering why Wärtsilä sent a young woman. However, since I am confident
with what I know, once I got talking to these people, they respected me and I built trust that I will get the work done,” she says.
Setting an example
Selamet has recently been appointed field service manager and is part of the shaft line repair services team. In her current role, she manages the field service engineers who travel around the world to work on Seals & Bearings products.
”My responsibilities are that I need to ensure we have the right skilled engineers at the right time – which requires extensive planning and flexibility,” Selamet says. ”I need to ensure the engineers have all the information they need before going on site and ensure everything runs smoothly from start to finish.”
Selamet has been with Wärtsilä six years so far, and says she is looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the company and the industry.
”I see the company going in the right direction so far looking into efficiency and low emissions, providing innovative solutions and technologies for all parts of the marine business,” Selamet says.
She considers Wärtsilä a place where she can continue to grow.
“I like that there are so many opportunities at Wärtsilä. You can mould your career yourself and head in the path you want to go. But if you are struggling with that, there is always help available and people to mentor or support you."
She also wants to set a positive example for other young women considering engineering as a career.
“I see no difference in gender – the most important thing is that the work gets done. But there is still a lack of female engineers working in the engineering industry. I hope to inspire young women who want to make a change because it is worth the challenge,” Selamet says.