I am very excited to introduce you to Tiff Dawson, who is going to be partnering with us as of the New Year on some really inspiring work for women in STEM. Tiff has recently moved to Bristol all the way from Australia with her Husband (who also works in tech and a huge advocate for D&I too) Tiff has a degree in mechanical engineering and has worked for several global engineering consultancies for almost 8 years. The part she loved most about her job was getting to know colleagues on a personal level and guiding them through career and life challenges. During that time, she coached a number of colleagues to excel in their careers by helping them see things in a new light. She has now launched Tiffany Dawson Coaching to empower women with the tools and knowledge to blaze their own trails, and work with STEM companies to create work environments that are more inviting to women. Her long-term goal is to set up a social enterprise that provides aid to females who wouldn’t usually have the means to study or work in STEM.
Last week we invited Tiff to come along to PHPSW and speak about her coaching sessions and workshops, the feedback was amazing! We are really excited to be working with Tiff throughout 2020, running workshops and coaching sessions both for individuals/groups and companies around the South West. She is working with some great companies and folk already to help them take control of their careers and set themselves free from the challenges holding them back. We are super lucky to be working with Tiff and can’t wait to see what we can achieve.
Here is her story, which is a fab one.
You have recently moved to Bristol, welcome, and have launched Tiffany Dawson Coaching, could you tell us all about it?
Thank you! I’ve loved exploring Bristol since I moved here from Australia earlier this year.
My mission with Tiffany Dawson Coaching is to coach and inspire women in STEM (science, tech, engineering & maths) to unleash themselves from career advancement blockers.
I do this via individual coaching, running group workshops and speaking at events – all in the aim of working towards gender equality in STEM.
You were an Engineer prior to launching your coaching company, where has your passion for engineering come from?
I was lucky enough to grow up with an engineer role model, my dad. He always encouraged me to solve problems in a curious way. Nothing was ever too hard to fix!
At school, I loved maths and physics so I ended up studying mechanical engineering at university. My degree allowed me to work at several global engineering companies across Australia and the UK which I feel so grateful for.
My passion for helping women in STEM to achieve fulfilling work and home lives increased over my 8 years in the construction engineering industry. That’s why I’ve launched my business which is my true heart’s calling.
Have you had any challenges in your own career which have held you back?
Absolutely! So many – and if you went through them all, you’d find a common theme. It was my own mindset that held me back time and time again.
The one that springs to mind is, at the age of 27 and just 5 years into my career, I lead a team of 30 engineers and project managers to work for my company’s largest client. My biggest challenge wasn’t the actual role itself, but the constant battle with my inner critic. You see, my team was full of engineers who had worked in the field for 25+ years. Here was little old me, afraid to provide them with clear direction.
I spent way too much time being fearful of what they might think of me, when all I really needed to do was fulfill the role I’d been trusted by my managers to do. Once I learned to let go of that fear, I became much more effective at my job.
What are your plans for Tiffany Dawson Coaching?
My current plans are to tackle gender inequality in STEM from both sides. That is, to empower women with the tools and knowledge to blaze their own trails, and work with STEM companies to create work environments that are more inviting to women.
My long term goal is to set up a social enterprise that provides aid to females who wouldn’t usually have the means to study or work in STEM.
Being a young female working in engineering, what is something you would say has surprised you most about the industry?
That so many people, including females, don’t understand why there is a gender diversity issue. If I’m perfectly honest, it took me about 6 years working in the engineering industry to start to understand the issues and I’m learning more about it every day. Not knowing ‘the why’ is going to hold back so many companies from figuring out ‘the how’ of solving the problem.
I believe that we need to help schools to promote STEM careers, how can schools raise more awareness in this?
When I was in year 10, an amazing young female lawyer came to speak to us at school about a career in law. Guess what. Fast forward 6 years, a disproportionate amount of my school peers graduated in law!
If we can get more people working in different industries to visit schools and tell them about what their days look like, school aged humans will be better equipped to decide amongst a wider range of jobs. The problem with STEM jobs is that it’s so hard for children to imagine what their future would be like, as opposed to doctors, teachers and other professions they’ve interacted with first hand.
Have you ever suffered from the imposter syndrome?
Oh yes. Hasn’t everyone? I still do from time to time and truly believe that everybody experiences this sort of fear. The key is to not let it stop you from achieving your goals. Fear is there to protect you but sometimes it gets the level of danger a little wrong.
There are some fabulous tools and strategies that anyone can learn for hearing the fear, but not letting it get in the way.
What is one bit of advice you would give to someone who is looking to progress their career?
Invest in yourself! I’m going to drop a truth bomb – no one else will care about you as much as you do. Be clear on what your career goals are and why you’ve set those goals. Is it because you think it will impress your boss? If so, start again! Career goals should have personal benefits that will serve you. Investing in yourself also means setting boundaries so nothing gets in the way of you achieving those goals.
If you’re having trouble tapping into your deepest desires, find someone who will help uncover them. This is one of the most rewarding parts of my job so I’m always here to help!
How can people sign up with you?
If you’re a woman working in STEM who’d like some one-on-one coaching, just fill out the questionnaire on my webpage below and book in a time for a complimentary Discovery Call with me. This is a 45 minute coaching experience where we get to know each other, discuss your goal and come away with a clear next step to achieving it. Sometimes our conversation ends here because you might have found the clarity you need. Most times though, if we’re both as excited as each other, we’ll work together for the next 3 months!
I also run group workshops for women in STEM. These can be in-house at a company’s office, or for events run by organisations. These workshops are always so much fun and participants often walk away with a new lease on work life and stronger bonds with their colleagues. If you’re interested in signing up, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Part of my mission is also to raise awareness of the gender inequality issues we face in our industries. I love to rile people up by speaking at events so if you’d like to collaborate, get in touch!
Who is your number 1 role model or inspiration?
This might sound cheesy but it’s got to be my mum. She doesn’t agree, but she’s one of the strongest women I know. My mum holds everyone up around her and is incredibly resilient. When she moved to Australia with an 8 month old baby (me!) she didn’t know a word of English and still managed to find a full time job and navigate a foreign country.
It was at the age of 30 that she first learned how to swim and only a couple of years after that, she became a swimming coach at a club that trained Olympic athletes! She really showed me that anything’s possible if you consistently work towards it.
What is your favourite quote?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Women Rock – A voice for diversity in tech <3
An interview by Alicia Teagle