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    Local women carving path to unconventional career

    Local women carving path to unconventional career pic 1

    Mechanical engineer, and first time Women Talk speaker Jessica Soodeen spoke to a crowd of roughly 30 people about carving the path to her dream career on Feb. 14. Soodeen’s career was been a slow progression, but now her office is race tracks around Europe, which is exactly what she wanted. Photo by Emily Rogers

    A Chestermere resident showcased the steps she has taken throughout her life to fulfill the unconventional career she has dreamt of during Women Talk Langdon on Feb. 14.

    First time Women Talk Langdon speaker, and mechanical engineer, Jessica Soodeen, explained how she carved her path, and the importance of taking time to achieve dreams to an audience of approximately 30 people.

    “I had dreams of moving to Europe. I gave myself three years to do it.

    “A lot of people didn’t think it was going to happen,” Soodeen said.

    From the very beginning, Soodeen’s schooling and internships were unlike average students.

    As an intern, she was the only women with 35 men, and would frequently attend motorcycle lessons.

    “I’ve gone about 270 km/h an hour on a bike,” Soodeen added, “Everything was homemade.”

    While trying to network, Soodeen began to self-sponsor herself during races, and learnt how to market herself while taking advantage of everything she could to build her career.

    “My obsession became my life, it was absolutely insane.

    “I decided I wanted to marry my career,” she said.

    To keep her momentum, Soodeen upgraded motorcycles in order to learn the mechanics.

    “I brought it into my living room, and I taught myself mechanics,” Soodeen said.

    She added, “The first time I opened the engine I was terrified, considering I was the only who would be testing it.”

    Soodeen eventually sold, donated or burnt almost everything she owned and moved to the Basque Country of Spain to learn mechanics where she stayed for five years.

    Every day Soodeen would download data into cars, do setup changes, fuel strategies, tire strategies and coach drivers.

    “I finally got what I wanted, I got out of cubical land.

    “My new office was at race tracks all over Europe and it was brilliant,” she said.

    It was extremely important for Soodeen to share her story of how she achieved her dreams to inspire other women to go after what they want out of their lives.

    “It went really-really well, I thought it was so nice to be able to talk to the people here because it’s a safe place,” Soodeen said.

    “When you’re a woman in a male dominated career, it didn’t make a difference for me.

    “Sometimes people just need a nudge to be able to do what they can do,” Soodeen said.

    She added, “You get to hear stories from different women about different things they have done with their life, that maybe you’ve been toying with yourself and it helps to give you that inspiration.”

    Soodeen hopes that audience members left feeling inspired to follow their dreams without fear.

    “Take the “what if’s” and make plans of action.

    “That’s why I was so calculated with how I did things, because a lot of people told me I would never do it,” Soodeen said.

    For the founder of Women Talk, Brigitte Lessard-Deyell listening to the diverse stories’ women have to offer is inspiring, motivating, and empowering.

    “By sharing your story you’re making the community stronger. I just love it,” Lessard-Deyell said.

    She added, Women Talk has been successful because the women who speak are not polished or rehearsed and are able to connect with the audience.

    “Social media has been incredible for women. It has connected women from around the world, but that human touch and that face-to-face presentation is so different, you can feel the energy of the person,” Lessard-Deyell said.

    She added, “There is a lot of wisdom in sharing a story, a lot of that gets lost when you’re not in the same room as the person.”

    “It really encourages people to believe in themselves, because it is possible,” said Women Talk Langdon Organizer Sheree Agerskov.

    “This platform really changed my life. I want to see other women get that same benefit,” Agerskov said.

    Lessard-Deyell added, “I am so honoured that these women, many for the first time in their lives come up to the microphone and share their story and watch what happens to them after the fact there’s no words to describe it. It just brings me so much joy.

    “It brings you confidence, it’s ordinary women sharing their story.”