Interview with Brandy Van Benthem
Alithya’s Women in STEM series brings together inspiring individuals to have a real conversation about how to create more rewarding opportunities for all, at every level.
Name: Brandy Van Benthem
Job title: Senior Team Lead
Years working in STEM fields: 15 years
Years working at Alithya: 13 years
Degrees/Education: B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering
Unique skills/interesting fact about you: I can solve 4 kinds of Rubik’s Cubes (2x2, 3x3, 4x4, and 5x5)
When did you first become interested in working in STEM? What influenced your interest in and decision to work in STEM?
I was in Grade 10 when McMaster’s Fireball presentation came to my school. I wasn’t aware of Engineering as a career path, but everything they spoke about resonated strongly with me. It piqued my interest as a high schooler who excelled in both Math and Science. My university application was solely to Engineering programs at different universities.
Why did you choose to work for Alithya? What are some of the ways Alithya has helped your career in STEM?
I specialized in Process Control in university, and I was focussed on finding a career in that area or one that supported it. There was an opening at Alithya with a team working on replacing Distributed Control Systems at oil refineries. My first major project sent me to Edmonton, Alberta to be on site for one of those replacements. My primary focus was writing and executing test plans for the displays used in the system. I continued onto a Test Team Lead role with the CASSITM team for a site roll-out. Since 2013, I’ve been embedded in the Nuclear industry at a client site. I started there working on documentation and testing of systems before they are installed in the plant. I’ve since moved into project management for the client.
What advice would you give to women who are starting their careers in STEM?
Seek out mentors, both informal and formal. Look inside your company and your field, but also in other fields. Mentorship can be hard to find, but it is well worth the effort.
What are some unique challenges as a female leader in the STEM industry? Are there any special skills or perspectives that you rely on to navigate challenges that arise?
A lack of female mentors within STEM. Having a wide breadth of perspectives helps when navigating challenges that arise. Not so much needing to speak with a mentor for every challenge that arises, but having had previous conversations and perspectives can help when a challenge does arise.
This is the second installment of a series where we sit down with Alithya coworkers to discuss some of the challenges, experiences, and advice for young women who are interested in entering STEM. To read more, please click to read Heather’s and Dipti’s interviews.