Faith Langat is a Chemical and Process Engineer by training, an Afrika Kommt Sub-Saharan African Leadership Fellow 2019-2021, Assistant Technical Delegate WorldSkills International Kenyan Chapter and above all a passionate Leader who believes in Sustainability. She currently just completed her one year stay in Germany where she underwent her fellowship attached to a leading automation and technical education solutions provider Festo Didactic.
Following her successful fellowship program in Germany, she has now been appointed as Account Manager-East Africa at Festo Didactic. Besides the career hats, she is a member of Wahandisi La Femme a community-based organization that carries out mentorships at the grassroots communities in Kenya.
Q: Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
A: A typical day for me is very dynamic but what stays constant is that every hour I put into my work is driven by passion and an inherent desire to add value. Being in Europe for one year has helped me understand better on world socio-economics in that the world does not create wealth from the blues but through value add from billions of its populates. Therefore, the world being and economic and social vacuum, we are all called to add value in any form be it kindness, economical and ultimately think and act sustainably.
Q: Did you always know that working in engineering was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into engineering? What inspired you?
A: My choice to pursue engineering was driven not only by my excellent performance in Maths and Sciences but also because my two cousins are engineers. Additionally, my parents being maths and sciences teachers, they inspired our performance and supported us as they were also passionate about sciences. This resulted in five engineers in our family of six-children.
Q: I don’t think it’s any secret that many women in STEM have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived and/or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
A: Wow my journey being a woman in STEM has been surprisingly incredible. I have found men who have believed in me and supported me. At no given day have I faced any challenges because of my gender. If anything it has been an enabler and has opened many doors for me. I know this is not the story of every woman in STEM but I am grateful to have found incredible bosses who were mostly men and wowed by my performance as a woman in STEM.
Q: How would you explain your Engineering field to young girls?
A: The world in its natural state is perfectly created and endowed with resources for human habitation. But in order for human to experience descent living, Man needs to continue the art of creation which continually engages problem solving skills to bring about food security, manufacturing, health and so much more.
And STEM gives man an opportunity to continue the creation of the universe.
That is the power of STEM!
Without stem I could not have survived winter, without STEM, I could not have travelled by air, without STEM you wouldn’t have read this story.
Fun fact: The largest and most stable economies in the world are the biggest manufacturers of complex and sophisticated products powered by STEM.
Q: What is your take on the number of women in engineering? Why do you think that’s the case? What do you think can be done to change that?
A: The number of women in Technical fields are few though the reasons maybe quite diverse, what I believe is that women have many barriers than men that they have to overcome especially in our African Society. One saying goes that you cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react. Though it may be easier said than done, I believe it’s the high time as women we be bold, inspire other women to be bold and continue to shape the mindset of our society one step at a time. One way we could inspire courage is sharing our genuine stories of courage, resilience, agility and above all stories of how we overcame difficult seasons.
I have had many fears myself, I have had to overcome self-doubt, I have won, I have made mistakes, I have gone through unfair situations, I have had unrealistic expectations of myself but what I have learnt along the way is that, as a woman in STEM, you do not need to be perfect because no one is the table is. Even men are not. All you need to do is to show up, be courageous, apply for opportunities, do not give up, just show up at the table and take a sit.
Q: What message would you give to young girls to inspire them to pursue Engineering?
A: Behind my door and near my mirror, are sticky notes with bold writing, hang on the wall. These words are verses from the Bible and words of encouragement. But first; let’s go back to back to why they are hanging on the wall.
Since I was a young child, I have always been a brilliant girl. Despite this, I have always started every new chapter of my life covered with fear. When I graduated from high school, I held badges of almost every subject on my sweater. I joined Moi University to study engineering; the first daughter in my father’s household. I was very elated in this new adventure and ready to score A s in every subject just as I had done in high school. My excitement was however quelled when I met people who told me they had been studying engineering for the last 8 years without graduating. My heart sunk into fear and all I wanted was to change my career. What kept me going was the strong belief that my parents had in me. So I had to hang in there.
Do not be afraid. These are the words hanging behind my door. The last words I read every morning before I step out; they have helped me overcome my fears and step out in boldness.
Confront your fears, your knowledge gaps, learn etc. but never let anything shake your confidence. Just show up at the school of engineering show up and stay put. Show up because you have the mind of Christ. Do not be afraid. Even when you face fear and storms admit your fears and ask God for help. Engineering has given me unique life problem solving skills.
You will rise above every barrier. You will be a contribution to your company, your family and your society. You deserve it and you will do it well. What words speak to your deepest challenges? Write them down and hang them behind your door.