I was born in France to parents of Moroccan origin. I’m the youngest of six children and, in the evenings, my brothers and sisters would have fun making me do multiplication. I hated being told that being a girl or an immigrant could be a barrier to my ambitions. All this did was make me roll up my sleeves to prove them wrong. Within the community where I grew up, girls left their family home to get married. When I left, to study, my mother told me that I was achieving what I had aspired to do all my life.
Driven by my desire for discovery, I enrolled in an exchange program to earn a master’s degree at Polytechnique Montréal. In my last semester, I was hired by BBA, where I worked for a few years before moving to Québec City. In 2016, my former BBA supervisor contacted me to tell me that an office was opening up in the capital and that there was an opening for me in electrical engineering on the same team whose members I was already familiar with. I accepted right away! At our first meeting, my supervisor from years before pulled out my name plate. He had kept it for six years believing that we would work together again one day.
I often fear that people think I have the job because of affirmative action, so I work very hard to prove that I have all the technical skills needed for my job. It’s a funny duality, because I’m in favour of quotas, but I feel as though we have to keep reminding people that they apply to equal experience and skills. They’re important because many women don’t embark on an adventure unless they’re sure they fully meet the criteria. And diversity in organizations is a win-win situation for everyone. After all, men may also strive for a better work-life balance, for example.
I’ve reached a point in my career where I’ve started mentoring young professionals. It took a year, and a lot of self-reflection, to feel comfortable with that idea. Realizing the impact women role models can have on young women engineers has certainly helped me shake off any doubts I’ve had about my legitimacy. If I can help just one girl feel like she belongs in engineering, then it’s worth it.''
- Hassiba Lkoun, Electrical Engineer at BBA Consultants