To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, SMART Associate Fellow Marcella Bernardo Papini shares her pathway to success. #eachforequal

SMART Associate Fellow Marcella Bernardo Papini

As a graduate and postgraduate engineering student, I did not have many female professor role models and because of that experience, I know that having someone to look up to can change lives, so my career goal has been to become a professor, to become that role model.

This journey started at school, I really liked chemistry, but I did not do well in physics and maths.

My mother decided to get some help from a tutor. Although our financial situation got complicated when my mother became a single mother after my parents got divorced, education was always the priority.

She has always said to me that education can get you anywhere and because of her belief, I ended up loving maths and physics, which led me to engineering.

On my first day as an engineering student at the Federal University of Ouro Preto in Brazil, I was told that if you wear makeup and/or are girly you cannot be a good engineer.

That got on my nerves. I knew that the way I looked did not define how good of a professional I could be.

Since proving people wrong always motivated me to do great, I was determined to become the best production engineering student I could be without quitting makeup.

As a result, I was awarded a scholarship to study for six months at the University of Salamanca in Spain and a merit-based scholarship for academic records in production engineering in my last year at uni.

I loved industrial engineering, so once I received my bachelor’s degree, my next step was to pursue a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering at the Federal University of Itajubá in Brazil.

I could have settled down in Brazil after obtaining my master’s degree, but I figured I wanted to be challenged and decided to pursue a PhD in Engineering at the University of Bremen in Germany.

After graduating from my PhD I was offered a job opportunity from one of the best universities in Australia.

When I was little, my family and I lived for a short period of time in Sydney. Although we loved the country, we had to go back to Brazil. But because of our wonderful experience here, I did not think twice about accepting the offer.

My top tips to achieve your goals:

  • Define your own goals. If you pursue goals that were set up by others for you, you will get pretty frustrated once you achieve them. They were not your own goals.
  • Break down the goal into smaller steps. They help us to get started and will give us confidence. Nothing beats the pleasure of ticking boxes.
  • Do not try to please everyone. You can get quite distracted (lose your focus) if you are always concern about other people’s feelings and opinions about you. You are not responsible for what they think about you.
  • Do not take yourself so seriously. You will feel demotivated and like a failure sometimes, especially when you are tired, but do not dwell on that. Everything looks better after a good night of sleep.
  • Have real good friends/allies. True friends are not afraid to tell you the truth. Honest feedback is one of the most important things one can get. ​