#CareerFocus With Divina Govender Junior Software Engineer at Saab

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1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an electronic/computer engineer with a passion for all things AI (Artificial Intelligence). I’m a curious-minded person that enjoys learning new things. Outside of my professional endeavours, I enjoy all things food – talking about food, cooking food, and, most importantly, eating food. I’d like to think of myself as a hard-working and optimistic person – I’ve always believed that things will work out as long as you do your best.

2. What work do you do?

I currently work as a Machine Learning specialist in the Software Engineering department at SAAB Grintek Defence. I’m responsible for researching, designing, and developing Machine Learning algorithms for company products and tools.

3. How long have you been in the industry?

It’s been almost 3 years since I started working full-time in the industry. As a former bursary student at my current employer, I was fortunate to be exposed to the industry during my studies through numerous vacation work stints as well.

4. Has your work always been your passion? Tell us why?

Yes and no. Since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed technical problem-solving; engineering ended up being a natural fit. However, I had no idea what electronic engineering actually was about until I started my degree. Thankfully, it all worked out. I really enjoy what I do.

5. What has been the most difficult challenge of your career?

Developing enough confidence in myself to speak up when I know something and ask questions when I don’t. It took me some time to get over the fear of appearing inadequate. However, I have realised that no one is born an expert on anything and that making mistakes is an integral part of the learning process.

6. Being a woman in the industry – what does it take?

Confidence, competence, and composure:

  • Confidence: Believe in your abilities and present yourself confidently.
  • Competence: Hone your skills in order to back up that confidence.
  • Composure: In a male-dominated industry, it’s easy to feel out of place and/or intimidated. However, it’s important to remain composed and not let that feeling of “otherness” get into your head. In the industry, we are professionals before anything else.
7. Do you think there is enough female representation in the industry?

I think that we are slowly getting there. In the past few years, I’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of women occupying senior roles in the industry. I only hope to see that increase even more.

8. What advice do you have for women who are inspired by your career trajectory?

Seize every opportunity that comes your way and try to get involved wherever you can. Place an emphasis on growing and learning. Most importantly, believe in yourself.

9. Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share this Women’s Month or words of encouragement?

Don’t be afraid to hit the ground running even if you may stumble along the way. You are more capable than you think you are.