Alison Seward is funding resource behind Women's Leadership Conference

February 3, 2017

Headshot of Alison SewardTomorrow sees the return of the Women’s Leadership Conference, a day-long celebration of women in engineering dedicated to giving them the tools. Now in its second year, the conference is designed to provide female engineering students with the confidence, tools, and leadership skills to step boldly into their future. It’s thanks to the generosity of Alison Seward, an alumnus of the Mechanical Engineering Department, that the conference has found the backing necessary to get started.

During her tenure at the Speed School, Seward worked as a co-op at General Electric, which helped launch her post-graduate career. Now a Technology Design Quality Leader still at GE, she is responsible for ensuring Technology’s alignment, support and execution of business quality goals. In 2015, Seward was made the recipient of the Edison Pioneer Award, which she donated to the University with the express desire to start the conference.

“With an estimated 80 current and 30 prospective students set to attend in 2017 it is clear that there is value in the conference supporting female engineering students,” says Seward.

She continues, “Women make up 20% of engineering school graduates but only 12% of practicing engineers. Statistics such as these make it clear that it is not enough for us to just focus on STEM education and female enrollment in engineering programs but that we must do a better job in preparing them for the workplace. Women in engineering face unique challenges in a typically male-dominated field. The Conference focuses on soft skills, networking and success in the workplace.”

Seward believes that her education was critical in helping her to be a creative problem solver, a skill set that she has employed in her professional work, from her position positions including New Product Introduction Supplier Quality, Program Manager, Design Manager, Cost-Out Execution Leader, up to her current role.

As such, Seward looks to her contemporaries and beyond, female engineers who have made an impact in some way. She explains, “I tend to look for characteristics or attributes in many different people and see how I can learn from them. For example, we have a leader at GE Appliances that is fantastic about engaging and supporting her team so I look for ways to emulate that in my own team.”

She adds, “I have had several professional mentors over the years, both formal and informal, that have been very helpful in my personal development. I have also been fortunate enough to have a couple of keys sponsors throughout my career.”

The conference runs Saturday, Feb. 4th from 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m in the SAC Multipurpose Room. Click here to learn more about the 2017 Women's Leadership Conference.