How to pivot your tech career and live a multi-hyphen life with Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Jan. 14, 2020, 9 p.m.
On this episode Abadesi talks to Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer, and broadcaster. She is the author of multiple books and is the founder of Youth Without Borders.
In this episode they talk about...
Her aspirations to work in Formula 1
“I remember it was the best half-day of my life. I walk past two McLaren F1s on my way into the office and I’m working with all these people with English accents and then I get a call from the admin lady at lunch and she’s like ‘hey, do you have your work visa?’ I didn’t, so they escort me off the premises.”
Yassmin grew up in Brisbane where as a young girl she wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. At nineteen years old she managed to find a job with an F1 team in England. She flew across the world for the job only to find out on the first day that she didn’t have the appropriate visa to work at the firm. While staying in the UK for a few weeks afterwards, she honed her hustling skills.
How she hustled her way into jobs
“I wallowed about for a bit and then I started cold-emailing people in the motorsport industry to ask if I could meet them. So I started catching trains to meet all these heads of different motorsport teams. I got offered a place in a really exclusive program but it cost 50,000 pounds, so I decided to work in oil and gas, which is really where my engineering career started.”
Yassmin’s career is a clinic in hustling. From humble beginnings she worked her way to a potential job at an F1 team, and when that didn’t work out as expected, she hustled her way into another job at an oil and gas firm. While working in the industry, she managed to complete a program that normally takes five years in just eighteen months and was poised to take over her own drilling rig.
Navigating engineering culture
“I did mechanical engineering which was super male-dominated then I went into like motorsport and the drilling industry. Throughout I was surrounded by a very strong culture which said women were just less valuable. You internalize that and you think the way for you to be valuable is to be as close to a man as possible and to really minimize your womanhood. So I for a long time was also like, ‘yeah women probably aren't really good engineers, I'm just the exception.‘
She talks about the pernicious culture in male-dominated industries such as engineering and how it affected her mindset and how it held back her career. She explains how she had to fight for credibility and how certain people supported her on her journey.
How she has successfully pivoted her career multiple times
Yassmin no longer works in motorsport or oil and gas. She wrote a book about her experiences as a person of color and what it was like working on the rigs. The company she worked for did not take kindly to the publication of her first book, so she pivoted her career to becoming a full-time writer and broadcaster. She talks about realizing that the company you work for is not a family and that the company will always put the company first. She has also since pivoted from Australia to London.
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