Future Leader: Rachel Dougan

For years, women have been making massive strides in the realm of business, reaching higher than ever before—and mentoring programs like the Emerald Leadership Program is a great way to boost that growth even further.

One of our hydraulic engineers, Rachel Dougan recently completed the Emerald Leadership Program that was created by the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce (IACC) to celebrate and support established and emerging Female Leaders.

Q. Rachel Dougan Hello! You came out from Ireland 5 years ago and have been with LCI for 3 years now as a Hydraulics Engineer, can you tell us a little about what your role involves?

Rachel: I work on projects across a variety of sectors including health care, aged care, laboratories & education facilities. As a hydraulics engineer, my work is in sanitary, stormwater drainage, hot & cold water, RO water and gas design. I design and review drawings to obtain information on new and existing services, complete calculations, produce hydraulic drawings using either Revit or AutoCAD and carry out site inspections during the construction phase.

Q. You’re going to have to explain what RO water is to me, please?

Rachel: Reverse Osmosis Water. The RO Plant treats water to provide a high quality of feed water to individual medical equipment. It is often used in hospitals for dialysis and medical equipment. We design the RO pipework, flow rate and pipework sizes.

Q. You recently completed the Irish Chamber of Commerce Emerald Leadership Program. Can you explain how and why you enrolled in this program?

Rachel: I was invited to an Irish Chamber of Commerce forum, “Women in Leadership” by one of our LCI Directors, Ciaran Mooney. Many inspirational women in leadership spoke at the event including Gabrielle Williams MP, Minister for Women and Martina Crowley National Private Clients Leader, PwC. The next day I submitted my application to join the next Emerald Leadership Program. I was hoping the program would help me in developing leadership skills, broaden my professional connections, improve my networking skills, and give me more confidence in public speaking.

Q. Tell us a little bit about the structure of the program – how long did it run for and what commitment was required from you?

Rachel: There were about 50 women who went through the program from all sorts of industries, including some who were running their own businesses. We were broken up into groups of 8. Each group had a leader that had previously done the program. In my group, there was one other person from our industry, a project engineer. It was good being able to connect with her. Our group had monthly meetings for a year plus were also given plenty of opportunities to attend extra events on a range of topics – Finance, investment, budgeting, taxation, and leadership. They were all geared toward women and had women guest speakers.

Q. A core part of the program is the monthly Mastermind Meetings which focuses on members’ wins from setting goals, but also addresses and works through individual challenges that may have been faced during the month. Can you describe these in a little more detail and how this component of the program developed you both professionally and personally?

Rachel: Setting monthly goals is definitely not something I would usually have done. Each month we discussed our goals and challenges with our group. Both personally and professionally. To do it with an unbiased group was both challenging and supportive. By reviewing them every month it encouraged us to keep moving toward achieving our goals. It showed me how far I had come and how far I had to go and whether I needed to change my method to reach my goals. Goal setting and achieving was an important part of the program skills. I am more confident now working towards my career development plan to become a senior engineer.

Q. What has been your biggest takeaways from the Program?

Rachel: To achieve where I want to get in my career, I have recognised the importance of leadership within the workplace. The program has definitely helped me develop my professional skills within the workplace by building my confidence and assertiveness to participate more in project meetings, and to take more ownership of projects through increased communication with the wider project team, the architects and the clients.
I have learnt to keep working towards your goals – they may not happen overnight, but by breaking each goal down into smaller steps, persistence and reviewing your process, they are achievable. I also found networking and the support of other female professionals very valuable.

Q. As a Hydraulics Engineer at LCI, how are you now applying what you have learnt through the Emerald Leadership Program to your role?

Rachel: At work, I have developed my confidence and am now taking more responsibility on large scale projects. I’m more assertive in explaining my project designs and calculations and with responding to queries, plus I am much more confident in my technical knowledge. I had never talked about it before, but we ended up discussing Imposter Syndrome.

Q. Imposter Syndrome is a really interesting topic, Rachel, and it wasn’t part of your program. Would you like to share some insights you discussed?

Rachel: Yes, we ended up talking a lot about Imposter Syndrome and basically having more belief in yourself and backing your ability to do your job. As we talked about it, it turned out that all of us suffered from it. We realised you can be the most confident person but still have Imposter Syndrome. Discussing it and sharing our individual experiences has really helped me understand the ramifications of it and helped me have more belief in myself and what I do. I now attend site meetings often as the lone LCI representative and the only female. I am confident in doing that now.

Q. Looking back to before you started the program, what has changed for you now? Are there goals you have now that you may not have considered before?

Rachel: I have continued the practice of setting and reviewing my goals, but they are now bigger goals than when I started. At the start of the program, I wanted to become more assertive and confident which has happened. Now I see the importance of setting major career goals, breaking them down and what I actually need to do to achieve them. I now have a definitive goal set for when I want to achieve my professional NER (National Engineers Registration) and then, eventually, my Chartership.

Rachel, thank you. It’s such a pleasure to hear the enthusiasm from you about completing the Emerald Leadership Program. Congratulations on your growth and achievements and good luck in achieving your goals.

Rachel: Thank you.

With the support of LCI, Rachel completed the Irish Chamber of Commerce Emerald Leadership Program in 2021. She intends to become a leader in future programs.

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