Meet Jessica Teodoro

Jessica Teodora Grosvenor Engineering

HVAC Engineer at Grosvenor Engineering Group

Jessica Teodoro wasn’t always so sure about a career in engineering. In fact, she almost pursued a future in event management. Then she landed work experience at GEG.

How did you land your role at Grosvenor Engineering Group (GEG)?

“I was studying in Wollongong, and along with my engineering course, I was doing an event-management course. I was actually choosing between those careers when I ended up getting work experience at Grosvenor. My cousin works for an interior design fit-out company, and Grosvenor does the mechanical work for their designs. I guess it started off that way – it was just a simple ‘Hi, how are you?’” Jessica explains.

“I still obviously had to do the work, meet the people and get to where I am today, but it’s one of those things where family and people you know give you the opportunities… you just need to grab them.”

Tell us about your role now as an HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) engineer?

“I actually didn’t know much about the HVAC industry before I started, because I’d never done a course on it. I went in knowing nothing. I remember one of the directors here, Steve Gallagher, saying, ‘Forget about what you’ve learnt, you’re going to learn everything you need to know on the job’ and I have. Being hands-on, being on the field, talking to other experienced engineers who have been in the field for 30 or 40 years has taught me a lot.

“Basically, my job is to design how much air conditioning a building needs so that it can handle the load of that building – the load is the number of people in the building, the equipment in that building, and just general air coming in.”

How long have you been at GEG now?

“I started in November 2016. I had about eight subjects left at university and had to complete work experience to graduate. I was at the Sydney office, just experiencing what they do, meeting people, and getting to know the business. I spent about six months there, and then I came to the Kingsgrove office. That’s where I first met Peter Souflias, the National Engineer and co-owner of the company. I went from being on a work-experience program to working for the company full-time as a cadet engineer.”

How did you balance studying and working full-time?

“The team here really worked with me and allowed me to do what I needed to do, which was great. I had a great support team, and they were really flexible with me. Not a lot of companies would do that, at all. They knew that I was putting in the work, though.

“In essence, Grosvenor really does try to put their employees first, before almost anything else.”

We’ve seen a big movement across Australia, supporting and encouraging women in engineering… how have you found the industry?

“I can’t speak for everyone, because everyone has their own stories, but I knew coming into this field that it was going to be a male-dominated space and that I was probably going to come across the people who would try and talk down to me because I was female… but that was very few.

“Grosvenor is really good in that respect. I’ve really noticed that I’ve always been supported. If someone was trying to talk down to me, my colleagues or my boss would always stick up for me. But at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about whether he said this because he’s a male engineer, or she said this because she’s a female engineer, it should be because they’re engineers and they know what they’re talking about.

“There’s definitely a lot more information out there and more support for females to get into the industry. It’s a great field to get into, but it’s not an easy field… even if you’re a male. You’ve got to be bold, you’ve got to make sure you stand your ground, you’ve got to make sure that what you’re talking about is correct. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be a statistic. I just want to do what I love doing, which is engineering.”

What is it about GEG that stands out most to you?

“When you come to work here, you really feel that it’s a family company. You’ve got the two directors who started the company as brother in-laws, you’ve got their wives and their daughters and their family members working here, and then you go and talk to other people and someone’s a best friend to someone, or someone’s a cousin to someone… My sister is working for us now and my brother’s working for us, so it’s really a family company. There’s not one person who can say that they didn’t know someone they work with here on a personal level before they started.

“I’ve just had a child a year ago, so I was pregnant and then on maternity leave. All through that period, everyone in the company was so flexible and understanding. I never felt stuck or like I had no solution.

“Just because I had a child, it didn’t stop me from moving forward with my career. I still managed to make it work, and this company helped me do that. They gave me the support I needed.”

What advice would you give to other young women looking to pursue an engineering career?

“Don’t give up. Don’t let what one person says, or two people… or a thousand… stop you from doing what you want to do. If this is what you’re passionate about, no one should tell you otherwise.”