Mom of the Month: September 2020

 

Name:       Michelle Tovar-Mora

Age:31

Location:   Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Job title:    Mechanical Engineering Associate

Company: LADWP

Meet Michelle Tovar-Mora, our Mom of the Month!

Keeping the lights on for an entire city is something that is often taken for granted.

Mrs.Tovar-Mora’s great passion for making a significant impact has led her to be part of the largest municipally owned utility in the nation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), doing her part to provide reliable and sustainable energy to the community. Her career in the utility industry began as a Staff Mechanical Engineer at ASWB Engineering; a woman owned and operated consulting engineering firm. However, her passion for inspiring women engineers began in college where she held multiple leadership roles in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Society of Hispanic Engineers and Science Students (SHPE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Engineering, Computer Science and Technology Student Council (ECST). These leadership experiences helped launch her engineering career with an internship at the City of Santa Ana. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA).

 

Her future educational and professional goals are to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and become a Licensed Professional Engineering in the state of California.

In her free time she enjoys spending time with her son, planning vacations with her husband, and participating in STEM outreach for students. Michelle believes that, “with dedication and self-motivation anything is possible.”

Interview with a fellow STEM Mom

1. What does your everyday work entail?

Since we procure all the natural gas and most of our counter parties are in Texas and Colorado we hit the ground running. There is an initial deadline line at 8:00 AM followed by subsequent deadlines throughout the day. I am in constant communication with Real Time Load Dispatchers ensuring we are doing everything in an effort to meet the load demand of the City of Los Angeles, reliably and economically. We work behind the scenes powering the whole City; its very satisfying and rewarding.

2. What career path led you to your current work?

I joined the Society of Women Engineers in College and their communication representative to get point for a class and that what exposed to engineering. I was mind blow by all these intelligent, bright females studying such a difficult field. Curiosity got the best of me and the support system was amazing, I switched my major three years in after really exploring the field.

3. How did you decide to move into this career path? - was it a certain person or moment which initiated it all? 

The support system and organization at Cal State LA.

4. Was there ever a time that you recall wanting to change paths & what convinced you to continue on your chosen path?

Yes, every other week I doubted how smart I was and questioned the decision. I received an internship the year I switched my major and that is was motivated me to stay in this field. I know from the internship experience that this career would be rewarding and bring my family financial stability.

5. Give us a brief description of a normal/extraordinary 24hours in your life. (You can choose one 😋) 

4 AM Wake-UP

5 AM Get to Work

5AM-3PM hectic work life of an operations engineers (answering calls, meeting, reacting to the market, coordinating with different groups, reports, etc.)

3:30PM Pick-Up Son from Day-care

4:00PM Get home play with son, run errands, family time with husband

6 PM Dinner Time with family

7:30PM Bath time and Story time

8:30PM put son to sleep

9:00PM pack his lunch and stuff for daycare

10:00PM start winding down for bedtime

11:00PM Bed time

6. Name the one thing which excites you about your field of work.

I love making a difference in my community - even though they will never know!

7. What has your experience been like being a women in STEM?

For the most part it has been amazing and I met a lot of individuals that have become my mentors and allies. However, I have still encountered sexist comments and experiences throughout my career, where a male’s opinion was more valuable and I was sheltered at the desk and not assigned field jobs. I learned to speak up and put my foot down in those situations.

8. Do you find that there are still barriers within the STEM field? 

100% yes, but I do think things are getting better, or maybe I work for an extremely supportive company and management

9. Did becoming a mom change how you experienced your field of work?

It did; I’ve had to plan more and work closely with my husband and family.

In October I have a plant outage where I will be running a project in another state for two weeks. I have coordinated for my mother to come with me so that I can take my son with me during these two weeks. Something that is challenging at times, but more of an affect on a personal level not professional.

10. How do you think organisational spaces could be improved upon in order to better support women in STEM?

I believe that now as a Mother in STEM I strongly believe that a daycare to accommodate working moms in all companies would better support women in STEM.

11. What do you hope to achieve within your career, whether in the short/long term?

My goal is to make it to upper management. Although my company has more than 20% women in engineering, the numbers are not very high when it comes to Management.

12. Would you encourage your little one(s) & other young girls to move into a career similar to your own & why?

100% yes. Not only is this career rewarding, you can go to all kind of avenues with an engineering degree and make a big difference in the world with your contribution.

13. What's your favourite mom &kiddie activity?

We love story time and our walks to the park. It engages his brain and keeps both of us active.

14. Please could you give fellow STEM moms some advice on how to navigate the challenges within our field.

a. Get a Support System

b. Be Vocal about changes

c. Don’t be afraid of applying to companies that value family and flexibility

 

Wife, Mom, Engineer!


If you enjoyed this month's feature, be sure to have a look at our earlier featured moms in the Mom of the Month tab.

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Kamie