Lauren McMullen, General Manager at SharkNinja
Lauren McMullen, General Manager at WISE’s newest member SharkNinja, shares her career journey and a perspective on becoming a leading female of the premium home technology firm.
Reflecting on my career, I believe an introduction to the technology and engineering industries both at school and through encouragement at home from surrounding role models played a vital role in my pursuit of the industry. I think both education from a young age and mentorship from others will be important to the growth in uptake of STEM subjects by young women.
Reviewing my network, many of my female peers have at least one parent or close role-model who works in an engineering or technical role. In my experience, these positive influences have been essential to overcoming the hurdles and misconceptions about the possibilities in STEM subjects for women.
There are many different roles and areas of focus in the STEM industries – the WISE membership roster is a clear example of this variety, all which offer vast opportunity to achieve success from a variety of study paths.
I studied Product Design and Engineering in an innovative course provided jointly by Glasgow University and the Glasgow School of Art. Subsequently, during my Masters in Design Management at the University of Cambridge I first worked extensively within the industry, helping a lab operation scale-up to production capacity. After spending eight years in a design management role with a large beauty brand, I got back into traditional STEM with SharkNinja in 2016.
Within my team at SharkNinja’s London office, I am surrounded by experts who have backgrounds in Product Design, Mechanical & Hardware Engineering and Technical Project Management. We have all graduated from different programs and taken different educational as well as professional paths but they have all led us to technology and engineering.
As I look at my colleagues in the industry, it is amazing to see that the culture facilitates such passion and genuine engagement in our daily work. I believe this is the nature of the STEM disciplines and have seen this specifically through my experience pursuing a career in product development.
It would be amiss to say that developing a career as a woman in STEM and growing into a position of leadership hasn’t come without challenges, but it has also offered incredible rewards and the opportunity to thrive as well. I have been able to champion women internally at SharkNinja’s by launching our WeLead programme, which collaborates internationally with our Boston office, and gives women a voice to be at the forefront of the company.
I am grateful to have been surrounded by people who have supported and encouraged my education and career in the industry, and would share the encouragement with any school or university age student considering a career in STEM to apply yourself to the possibility.
If you are in need of some inspiration, try seeking out placements and submit as many applications for work experience as possible. Be hungry and adaptable to understand what does and does not appeal to your interests and strengths. Most importantly, don’t worry too much about getting it exactly right the first time! STEM education is widely recognised as a strong and rigorous foundation for many career options you may end up pursuing. If someone doesn’t initially seem obvious, look for the people in your network who offer encouragement and inspire you to find the possibilities of a career in STEM. You will likely find someone willing to help if you ask for it.
If you are already a member of the STEM industry, never forget to share what inspires you and use your leadership to be that person who encourages others. It will take this kind of encouragement from current women in STEM for our industry to grow.