Today, the world is celebrating International Women’s Day to commemorate the social, political, and cultural achievements of women across the globe. We at FF are honored to salute the truly remarkable, hard-working women within our company who consistently make amazing achievements in engineering, design, and manufacturing every single day.
In honor of their tremendous professional contribution, we are thrilled to publicly announce our internal Women’s Executive Journey program. This is a part of our grassroots corporate social responsibility initiative, “Soul of Faraday,” which aims to encourage philanthropic involvement throughout FF and local communities.
The Women’s Executive Program focuses on woman-to-woman empowerment, featuring meetings and discussions amongst our internal community where FF women can share their personal journeys, motivations, challenges, and career triumphs.
We are committed to cultivating a diverse workforce here at FF, and are constantly witnessing the creative and social benefits that come from hosting such a dynamic collection of employees.
“At FF, talent drives everything we do and we believe our team is one of our most valuable assets,” said Alan Cherry, Vice President of Human Resources at FF. “Our team is responsible for fostering the collaborative environment that drives our speed and exceptional performance. Our employees reflect our values, influence our culture, and support personal growth and development throughout the entire company.”
Q & A Interview with Silva Hiti, Senior Director of Powertrain Engineering at FF
We asked one of our engineering leaders, Silva Hiti, about her journey from Yugoslavia to California, and the challenges she faced along the way. Silva is one of the masterminds behind our first patent and joined FF after working on the Chevy Volt project.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced during your journey?
SILVA HITI: One of the most difficult challenges was deciding to leave Yugoslavia to pursue my graduate degree in the U.S. at Virginia Tech. Leaving my family, friends, and the community I was a part of was hard – but I knew that in order to be a truly great engineer, one had to study in the U.S. at that time. Though I comforted my family by telling them I would return after grad school, the war and the dissolving economy soon made it impossible to move back with any degree of permanence.
I knew not being fluent in English would make for an exceptional challenge – and it did. At the time, I didn’t speak English very well – I spoke Serbian and studied German in school, but that was it. The English that I spoke was almost entirely technical in its vocabulary – I was primarily focused on becoming a better engineer, at the time, instead of learning new languages. At first, a professor helped translate for me in different scenarios, but eventually he put me out on my own to publicly present my projects in English. It was frightening, to say the least – but I learned tremendously from that experience.
Did you ever face any difficulties as a woman pursuing engineering?
SILVA HITI: Well, in Yugoslavia – where I grew up and earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees – it was much less uncommon for women to pursue engineering. To be honest, the first time I ever really questioned whether or not it was appropriate for me to be an engineer was when I visited the U.S. When people would ask what I did for a living, and I would say that I was an electrical engineer, their eyes would get really big – they’d be shocked! Surprised that a woman like me could be an accomplished electric engineer. In Yugoslavia, though the ratio of men-to-women in engineering was still very skewed, the job never elicited the reaction that I’d received in the states.
Do you have any advice for young women?
SILVA HITI: My child’s teacher told him to “find what he likes to do, and learn to love it.” I think that’s very true – you have to find what you enjoy learning, and work hard at it – discover the wonder in it. I enjoyed math and science in school, and now I love engineering so much – I get to make new things while working with some of the smartest people in the world. It’s amazing!
What do you enjoy about engineering at FF?
SILVA HITI: FF offers this incredibly unique work environment. The company draws in these diverse teams of proven experts – men and women from all over the world. Because individual teams are comprised of these proven specialists, we are quickly able to define explicit goals and begin working towards them. As opposed to working on individual components in isolation, we can design an entire system from the ground up, and then optimize components from that vantage point. There are so many opportunities here for innovation – and all of the different perspectives available here certainly enhance that.