Weaving the stories of women’s lives: Jackie Floyd, Electrical Engineer, Hydroelectric Design Center

The accounts of the lives of individual women are critically important because they reveal exceptionally strong role models who share a more expansive vision of what a woman can do. The stories of women’s lives, and the choices they made, encourage girls and young women to think larger and bolder, and give boys and men a fuller understanding of the female experience.

This year’s Portland District campaign celebrates those stories and the women who share them.

Jackie Floyd
Electrical Engineer
Hydroelectric Design Center

Jackie Floyd, Electrical Engineer (EIT), Hydroelectric Design Center

What do you find rewarding about your job? What do you find challenging? How do you overcome the challenges?
I learn something new every day. It’s really rewarding when I can take something I learned and apply it in a productive way in doing my job. The challenging part seems to be to learn the new thing first, as sometimes the information is complex. I try to find different ways to understand something if the first try isn’t successful. I might read about it, sketch it out or ask someone in the office to explain and ask questions.

What are your career aspirations and how are you preparing to accomplish them?
I’d like to become more of a leader in our office farther down the road. For now, I’m learning what I can and taking on some smaller leadership opportunities. I’m also looking to take the PE (Professional Engineer) exam in the coming year.

What do you think is one of the most important challenges facing women today?
Pushing ourselves to pursue leadership roles in the workplace.

How do you motivate or encourage your colleagues?
I try to talk with them often about what jobs they are working on and how they are going. If they are experiencing issues, I try to help them think about solutions or share experiences I’ve had.

Describe yourself, your work ethic, or your career path in six words.
Learning is a part of work.

Tell us about a woman you’ve worked with whose influence or impact changed how you approach life or work.
I worked on a line crew for a couple years during college. I worked with another girl who was a year older than me. We were both incredibly out of place in the entirely male crews, but since she had a year’s more experience than I did, I was able to watch her and learn how to fit in, be strong and stand up for myself.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to another woman working for the Portland District?
I love our motto “Essayons (let us try).” That’s a great expression to remember in any situation.  Don’t give up trying.

What was your first job? Tell us one thing you learned there that has stayed with you, and how it influences your work philosophy or approach.
I first worked in a summer camp kitchen. The head cook had run the kitchen for a long time and was very particular about most things in the kitchen. I learned to listen to and follow directions closely as well as learned to understand the wisdom in the way she ran things.

Where did you grow up? What do you remember the most about “home”?
I spent the first ten years of my childhood in central California and, thanks to the nice weather, I recall a lot of outdoor imaginative play. The latter part of my childhood was spent in Tillamook, Oregon, which was highlighted by a heightened interest in agriculture and nature.

Jackie Floyd, Electrical Engineer (EIT), Hydroelectric Design CenterWhat is your favorite pastime? How do you relax?
I enjoy experiencing new things, often in the realms of art and culture (film, exhibits, festivals, etc.).

What are you most proud of as a woman?
My career.

What is your greatest hope for women in the future?
I’d like to see a more instinctive pursuit of leadership roles, particularly in STEM.

How have your relationships with other women, both co-workers and friends, influenced or impacted you in your career?
Co-workers: As I’ve started to think about pursuing a mentoring relationship with women in leadership positions in our office, I’ve realized that there aren’t very many women in these roles. My desire is to see this change for future generations … and has also led me to pursue such roles for my career.
Friends: Socially, I have a pretty significant network of strong ambitious women, whose developing careers encourage me to work for the same in mine.

What would you tell your younger self?
I decided to become an electrical engineer in 7th grade. I questioned myself a lot, sometimes thinking I had tunnel vision and wasn’t looking at all my options, but nothing else seemed as exciting. If I could, I’d reassure myself that I was making the right decision.

New stories from Portland District’s female employees will be added throughout March. To read them, visit http://usaceportland.armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/category/womens-history-month-2015/.