It’s impossible to totally stave off negative feelings at work. For BD’s Femy Joy, though, working in an industry that is constantly evolving is a great way to ensure there’s never a dull moment.
‘You will never be bored in this industry.’ Isn’t that what we all crave? To be guaranteed some immunity from drudgery?
No job is perfect, of course. Yet jobs that are monotonous have a unique way of eroding the psyche. They can feel stultifying and dehumanising. These kinds of jobs can be difficult to deal with over extended periods.
The lack of dullness is exactly what Femy Joy, a senior software engineer at BD, enjoys about her job. Joy told us about how her role in BD combines her persistent interest in biology with her passion for IT.
What drew you to this career area?
I have been interested in computers and technology ever since I was a child. I loved science and I always found biology to be one of the most exciting subjects in school. When I left school, there were huge job opportunities in the IT field and, considering the above factors, I decided to do engineering at university.
I really enjoyed the programming modules of my engineering course, which made me want to pursue a career in the technology field – but the love for biology never left me. For me, nothing could have been better than an IT job in the medical field. I started my career as a web developer and, over the years, I found myself becoming more interested in fishing out issues in the application progress and fixing them.
What’s the best thing about working in this area?
I love to constantly learn and be challenged. With so many new things emerging in the market every day, there is always something new to read, learn, discover or to improve. You will never be bored in this industry.
Moreover, I am especially excited about all the projects and research that BD does to make a real difference to people’s lives. It is rewarding to know that you are working to improve the everyday lives of people.
What’s the most exciting development you’ve witnessed in your sector since you started working in it?
It is exciting to help create something new that the world is going to use. For example, I am excited to be part of a team that’s enhancing automation for clinical laboratories. The work we do at BD will help overhaul lengthy hospital processes, improve waiting times for patients, and help doctors become more effective by bringing quicker test results to medical professionals and bringing faster cures to patients.
What aspect of your job did you struggle/have you struggled to get to grips with?
Like everyone, I’ve encountered aspects of a job where I have struggled. When I started my career in India, I found it very hard to manage a good work-life balance. I was working very long hours and there was a lot of pressure around project delivery and deadlines, which naturally affected my performance and overall enthusiasm. At one point, I even considered changing my career.
I realised that might not be the right solution, so I decided to take a step back and I found that most of the problems were communication issues and the lack of defined responsibilities in a geographically disperse team. Small steps were taken to fix these within the team, which made life better for everyone.
What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to face in your career, and how did you overcome it?
Working in STEM, you are dealing with problem-solving people all the time. It can be hard working in situations where you have to try and make sure your opinion is heard, especially when looking to find a solution. It’s not easy having to compromise but it can be overcome with constant communication, a little bit of patience and teamwork.
I have also come to learn that in order to grow in your career, you need to put yourself out there, demonstrate your capability and show that you can take up responsibilities. You need to be what you want to be in order to get to where you want.
If you had the power to change anything within the STEM sector, what would that be?
STEM is an exciting industry and I would like to see more women working in the sector. For example, in most companies I have worked in, men outnumber women almost 10 to one. There have been great initiatives set up by STEM businesses to encourage women to study and work STEM, such as university scholarships and graduate programmes.
I would like STEM companies to reach out to the young female graduates to let them know that it’s not a scary world that belongs to men. Most of the organisations I have worked in have support and empowerment groups for women, which I think is great encouragement from management.
Which of your personality traits makes you best suited to your job and this sector?
Things are constantly changing in STEM and I enjoy all the learning that comes with new developments, whether it’s in-depth knowledge of something going on in the market, or being a ‘jack of all trades’. A mix of both helps in the industry long-term.
Is there something in your personal life that helps you/has helped you in your job?
Keeping active outside of work is important and it allows me to remain motivated and focused on my job so that it doesn’t become all-consuming. It is also important for me to mentally switch off from work in the evenings. I find that it helps me focus much better when I am at work.
How do you make connections with others in the STEM community?
With a hectic schedule, it can be difficult to find the time to connect with people outside of your organisation. In the past, I have depended on social media platforms such as LinkedIn; however, I plan to reach out to more STEM-focused forums and conferences. I think it is important to build connections, learn from other experts and expand your knowledge. It can be a great way to progress in your career.
Has mentorship or coaching been important in your career?
I think it is important to have a mentor in STEM because you will have a guide who encourages you to be better and will challenge you. I think it is great for personal development and team-building, which is valuable in the STEM industry. BD has a mentoring programme that I want to get involved with also.
I have been fortunate to have had a chance to work in diverse teams with some great leaders, which allowed me to learn the different ways to approach a problem and tackle issues in a project. I have also been lucky to work with some highly skilled people who helped me progress in my career.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in your area?
I would advise someone thinking of working in software engineering to have a mentor before you join the industry, and to be open to critique and guidance. Starting out is an uphill battle, full of learning and challenges, and having a mentor will help you to improve yourself and become as talented as the other team members around you.