No hurdle too high for a career in engineering

Born and raised in Luton, Elin Esnard, 22, third year engineering student at aerospace engineering company Leonardothrives with the organization as one of their top-performing students, with rave reports from its supervisors.

But beyond the obvious signs of her professional growth and achievements, she is more proud of the personal growth that has led to this.

Elin attended Barnfield South Academy in Farley Hill in Luton and had always intended to go to university, inspired by her mother, who had studied geography and education at Warwick University. However, it was during her A-Levels that she was first diagnosed with dyslexia.

Elin said: “In high school I had been quite academic. My GCSEs were good and my school pushed me to university, taking me to conferences in London and events for Oxford and Cambridge. At that point my grades were good enough to consider going there in the future and that was the only reason I ignored all the signals that this might not be the best choice for me.”

Elin Esnard (Image: Leonardo)

But as the weeks went on, an inconvenient truth emerged. For years, Elin had managed her undiagnosed dyslexia on her own, and when she received a formal diagnosis, it came to the fore, affecting her self-confidence and affecting her concentration.

Elin explained: When I couldn’t take my A-Level exams and got the results I had hoped for, I felt really stupid, unintelligent, a failure and that I was not going to do anything with my life. All my friends had gone to college and I felt worthless.”

Her mother, Vikki Powell, was convinced that this was not a cause for undue concern as long as she continued to move forward, discovering what to do with her life. She kept insisting that things happen for a reason, and as long as Elin was happy, she could achieve whatever she set her mind to. Elin calmed herself and undeterred by unsuccessful applications, she attended Luton Sixth Form College. During the summer of her freshman year at university, she did a week of work experience with Leonardo.


Elin said: “I felt like I was having the best time of my life learning about engineering and meeting new people. We looked at design, soldered things and the whole week inspired me. I went back to college for a second year, but it didn’t go so well. Then it was first of ‘I will never work for such a company’. †

After graduating from Sixth Form College, Elin held three jobs at once, serving as a waitress, showroom assistant, and gymnastics coach. It turned out that combined with her intelligence and enthusiastic attitude and determination, all these roles gave her transferable skills that made her a strong candidate for Leonardo. Thinking she had nothing to lose, she sat with her mom on Christmas Eve filling out an application form. On January 3 of that year, she received a letter saying she had been invited for an interview, and the day after, on her way to her gymnastics coaching session, she was called to say that she had been given the job.

Listen to your body, listen to your mind and put yourself at the top of your priority list

Elin said: “I was ecstatic – I just cried! This experience taught me that the reason I didn’t do my A levels or get those other jobs was that there was a much better opportunity further down the line that I needed to be free for. If you persevere and go through what you are going through and work very hard, you will get there. It could be right away or a few years later, but everything happens for a reason and you get what you work for.”

At Leonardo, Elin is able to leverage her strengths and she believes one of the reasons she received such a late diagnosis is that she is so confident and articulate, so being open and honest with colleagues allowed her to thrive. She can use software that allows her to dictate instead of typing documents, and in meetings she can explain that she can’t take notes and talk at the same time, so they use a different method.

Elin attends Bedford College one day a week and is currently completing a BTech Level 3 in Engineering while working towards an Engineering Technician Standard. Her internship has enabled her to complete varied internships across the company, including systems integration, quality assurance, software, obsolescence and antennas. When she finishes her internship, she would like to take a technical role, inspired by the example of her grandfather who was an electronics engineer at the Natural Environment Research Council. Her grandfather often went on sea voyages with biologists to monitor the environment.

But Elin’s experiences have made her prioritize her own well-being and as part of her Leonardo Benefits package, she takes advantage of her gym membership and flexible time, allowing her to shape her day around a healthy, balanced way of life.

Elin shared why she believes self-care is essential for professional growth, saying: “Take care of yourself, burning yourself out is no fun. That means taking care of your mental health and your physical health. Listen to your body, listen to your mind and put yourself at the top of your priority list and then you will be able to take full advantage of opportunities when they arise.”

Abhishek Maheswari
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

The Bihar Engineering