A friendly flutter builds a career in engineering
A wager with a friend 30 years ago saw Cita Norouzian studying engineering at a time when few females entered the workforce in technical professional roles. Fast forward two decades and Cita’s career has taken her from varying mechanical engineering roles to now the Technical Director at Aurecon managing their Wet Processing plant.
Cita shares her journey and how she balanced a career with being a young mum of two.
Tell us Cita, what drew you to engineering as a career, and what did you want out of this career path?
It wasn’t a matter of me choosing engineering as a career, it was more like a bet. At the time, a friend challenged me, told me I couldn’t do it, so I went out of my way to show him I could.
I never thought about what I wanted out of an engineering career, it satisfied my curiosity, and it was challenging enough. It was not like I was doing this to achieve some grand ambition. I went into it blindly and I got a lot of pleasure out of it.
What are the career-related challenges you’ve overcome to get where you are today?
Every day there is a challenge but I don’t see any given task as a challenge rather it’s like I need to get from here to here, and I do whatever is needed to achieve the outcome. I am a very matter-of-fact kind of person and there is no situation where I don’t see a resolution.
It’s funny how careers some times choose you ... any regrets?
I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What do you consider some of your career highlights?
I’m quite fortunate as my career has been relatively smooth sailing and reaching where I am now in a senior management position has been through a mindset (of success) rather than natural progression.
There are two moments I will never forget; one being when I started and managed my own business. It was a boutique business consultancy, and my partner and I built it from scratch, and it grew from just us into a business employing 30 people. That was quite a thrill. Another highlight I still reflect on was when I was let loose in Worsley Alumina’s R&D labs “just use whatever you want!” they said, so I did! You see, I am a bit of nerd too and I just went crazy! It was an absolutely amazing three months working there.
Who or what is the biggest influence(s) behind your success?
You will not believe what I am about to tell you. My kids. They were the best influences in my life. The age gap between me and my kids is not much (17 and 19), I was at University for five years when they were only young and I used to take them with me. I manoeuvred my career and my life in a way that is kind of a backwards influence so that my kids learn from my experience.
How did you balance career and being a mum?
It’s about wanting something bad enough. I juggled a heavy University schedule, being a mum and working to provide for my family. I didn’t see any other choice but to have a good career and be a role model for my kids. I wanted to be in a position where my kids would say “um, mum’s an engineer so I’m going to have to go higher than that”. This is what I am talking about when I say my kids inspire me, just in reverse.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I’m not a big fan of segregation but what I am a fan of is women getting together to exchange ideas, whether professional or personal. International Women’s Day creates an opportunity for women to do this. Not to influence each other, not to inspire each other because every individual woman has it in them already, to do what they want. But to exchange ideas or compare notes, you know what I mean? Even if it is simply exchanging recipes “ooh I like this muffin you made” … it’s the coming together and bonding I like.
What is the best advice you have been given?
The best advice came from my mum. She had a career herself, an Education Lecturer in Iran, and understood the challenges facing women at that time. Basically, my mum told me a woman is just as capable as a man so don’t let anyone get in your way if you want something.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in engineering?
Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into career-wise and the challenges you might face. I didn’t know much about engineering at the time. And (with) engineering, the technical side of it is very sweet, but from what I’ve seen over the years, women have taken a background role. The advice I can give is to stand your ground and know that you belong there.