WES appoints new CEO to champion women who will “transform our future”

In the approach to its centenary year, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) – a charity and professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development – has announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer.

In her new role, Elizabeth Donnelly, who has a strong record of accomplishment in championing diversity in engineering, will continue to inspire women to succeed as engineers, scientists and leaders, while helping to support companies in strengthening gender diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Surveys in 2017 indicated that only 11% of the engineering workforce is female. Meanwhile, the proportion of young women studying engineering and physics courses has remained static since 2012. However, a global survey revealed that 85% of corporate diversity and talent leaders agree that “a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation”.

A keen supporter of the education of engineering, and following an early career in IT, Elizabeth graduated with flying colours from the Open University in 2006, where she specialised in Systems Thinking, Databases and Web Development. Throughout her fruitful career, she has worked for Rolls-Royce, where she held the title of External Engagement Officer, and her expertise led to Membership of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Elizabeth also headed up the skills agenda for ADS Group Ltd, the trade association for aerospace, defence and security.

It was at ADS Group Ltd that Elizabeth chaired the RAeS Education and Skills Committee and became a founder member, and later Deputy Chairman, of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Committee. She also founded the RAeS Amy Johnson Named Lecture in 2011 and became a Non-Executive Director of the East Midlands Regional Development Agency.

In 2013, Elizabeth set up her own consulting company where she worked alongside charities and universities as a Strategic Business Analyst, before graduating with a Master of Science (MSc) in Systems Thinking in Practice from the Open University in 2017.

WES President, Benita Mehra, said:

“As we approach our centenary in 2019, I am delighted that Elizabeth Donnelly is joining WES as CEO. Elizabeth has a strong track record of success embracing engineering, diversity and charities and is ideally suited to lead WES into our second century.”

Elizabeth added:

“I am delighted to be appointed Chief Executive at WES as we celebrate our centenary. I am really looking forward to working with our members, partners, professional engineering institutions and the wider public to showcase the success of women engineers who have gone before us and those who will transform our future.”

WES turning 100 in 2019

As part of its centenary celebrations in 2019, WES will be undertaking a variety of national and local events. These will be in recognition of the many women who have made a significant contribution in the past and to embrace future change, where the industry expects to see more women working in engineering and related careers.

The 2019 WES centenary celebrations include the WES Centenary Trail, the Centenary Annual Conference, ‘100 Violets’ – an activity being led by the WES Young Members’ Board – plus locally organised events. In addition to this, the charity’s annual campaign ‘International Women in Engineering Day’ (INWED) has the theme ‘30by30’, signifying its aim for 30% of the engineering workforce to be women by 2030.

Matchtech is a proud, long-term supporter of WES and looks forward to getting involved in next year’s centenary celebrations, as we continue to support the initiatives to encourage more women to choose a career in engineering.

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