Jan Hilbi

Current Position: CFS at Laughing Moon Studios
Jan Hilbi
Highlight The best engineers are creative, innovative, and broadly educated in both the humanities and sciences.
January 26, 2008Her job: CFS, Cheshire Learning
Describe what you do in your current work situation? I am CFS of Cheshire Learning, a small, totally woman owned consulting firm specializing in turning challenged organizations into well run, profitable companies.
Why did you choose engineering? Thanks to a life-long interest in science and a bit too much curiosity for my own good, engineering chose me.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? MBA - Claiformia Coast University Masters of Science, Project Management - City University
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? Business and project management coaching, consulting and training. Systems Engineering Process Engineering Business analysis Client relationship management
What do you like best about being an engineer? The excitement of seeing ideas become reality. Helping make work easier and more effictive for others
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? the honor of being one of three authors to write New Paradigms for Process Automation which was recently presented at AE2000, Alliance Engineering Symposium in Paris, France. The Alliance Engineering Symposium has been gathering experts from 22 countries every year to promote the latest technical developments in telecommunications. The symposium provides a unique opportunity to evaluate innovations, discuss trends with leading specialists from around the world and recognize individual contributions. Helping challenged organizations become balanced, well run and effective.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? Throughout my career with the federal government I was the only female electrical engineering technician within a ten-state region and for seven years with AT&T the only female instructor teaching fiber optic transport system classes. On several occasions I was informed that "women didn't belong" in the technical or scientific ranks. Patience, perseverance and a solid knowledge base convinced even the most skeptical that women were capable of performing, and even excelling,
Please tell us a little about your family. We now live in Portland, Oregon with three cats and a view of Mt. St. Helens.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? As a business and project management consultant and trainer, my primary objective is to improve how organizations function.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? Two people created the pathway into engineering; Harold Ramey, from Seattle, Washington, awakened my passion for chemistry, physics and deductive reasoning. He demonstrated the excitement and sheer pleasure of scientific discovery. Lastly, Walt Disney taught me the joy of creativity and the importance of letting the imagination run wild. Various assignments within AT&T bridged the two by giving me the opportunity to apply creative approaches to systems design. Applying the lessons learned on a global scale has kept the work both interesting and challenging. Systems Engineering is an environment where innovation, deductive reasoning, and a sense of humor are exercised daily. The nature of my work places me in constant contact with the client, the end users, and a very small, extraordinarily talented group of systems developers and web designers. Each gives me the opportunity to continuously grow.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? A degree in engineering opens many career doors. It provides a solid foundation upon which a wide variety of experiences may be had. The best engineers are creative, innovative, and broadly educated in both the humanities and sciences. This educational base lends itself to a more holistic approach to problem solving. Often it is assumed that technical solutions are the answer but without consideration for the human element, this approach will fail. Finally, find your passion and you will excel.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. On the personal side, travel, humor, and a good water balloon fight help to keep life in balance. I believe giving back to the community is critical and, as CFS (Chairman of Fun Stuff) for Laughing Moon Studios, have the opportunity to do so in a meaningful way.