Jessica Tabinor Aerospace and Defence
Firmly set on a career in medicine, it was only when volunteering at a local hospital that Maneesha Bhate realised it wasn’t her destined route. With her father already a successful engineer, she threw herself into the family career and hasn’t since looked back.
“Growing up, I’d always wanted to be a medical doctor,” explains Maneesha. “Every choice I’d made was working up to this – graduating with an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and taking the MCAT® (Medical College Admission Test) – but it was during the mandatory volunteering that I realized it wasn’t what I’d built it up to be.”
Fast forward to today and Maneesha’s current role as Software Design Authority, Enterprise Architect with Thales IFEC, sees her acting as the technical lead in developing and approving solutions for bids and new product lines.
“Turning my back on medicine was a big decision and after taking some time out to consider my options, I chose to go to graduate school to study Computer Engineering as it was the next logical career step, and that’s how I fell into technical engineering."
“In my 12 years with Thales, I’ve done every job there is to do in software, first as a developer, as that’s how everyone starts out, before moving into software engineering, software project management, project engineering, functional management and more."
“It was actually the THALES IFE Chief Engineer who approached me about my current role to see if I was interested in applying. I thought, if he’s asking, then I’m definitely interested!”
Throughout her career, Maneesha has adopted a four-point check, something that she always instilled into her team while a manager, to ensure that each member was happy in his or her current position and career direction. In any situation, she explains that anyone should be able to ask themselves the same four questions: Do I like what I what I do? Do I enjoy my environment including my colleagues? Am I adequately compensated? Am I learning? Three or four positive answers means you’re in the right job, yet two or below shows that you need to make a change. And it’s this same positive outlook on happiness and progression that sees past team members return to her for advice, which she describes as a recurring highlight.
In an industry that’s working hard to build a strong pipeline of diverse talent, Maneesha is always focused on securing positions due to her talents, experience and what she brings to the role, rather than her gender. Citing her parents as her role models, she values their influence and outlook on life for helping her to reach where she is today. Coming from a typical middle-class background, Maneesha has always held onto the positives gained from getting a good education, being honest and hardworking.
“I always try to find inspiration from new accessible sources that can guide me and inspire me. Those inspirations have always come in the form of professors while in college and senior members in key leadership positions at work. I find it rather difficult to derive inspiration from historical figures as I am not able to relate to them or have a conversation with them. Over the years, I have learned to request mentorship help without formality, and such a request rarely goes unacknowledged.”
Looking ahead, Maneesha’s career with Thales looks to continue to scale new heights.
“Engineering is changing so fast, especially in software. I want to ride this wave of change and continue in leadership roles whether in full technical or full management."
“For new talent entering the industry, young or old, remember, you don’t need to know everything about software. As long as you love technology and enjoy going between the big picture and details, then every task becomes a learning experience. No matter how difficult it may seem at first, there is a way to triumph."
“To succeed, you need to be a problem solver, have the ability to embrace new challenges, develop new solutions, while remembering to carefully document the solution, so that others can understand it, replicate and derive inspiration from it. Imitation is the best form of flattery in such cases."
“What’s great about Thales is that it allows you to touch almost every technology possible, at whatever depth you want. You can become an expert in any technology; Android, UI, UX, hardware development or cloud, the possibilities really are endless."
“Whenever we start working on a new product line, we always take a step back to see the bigger picture and how the product will manifest itself in the bigger ecosystem. It’s this constant variety and learning journey that keeps it fun and exciting and the fact that what you do every day impacts people on a global scale.”