Name: Uwase Vestine
Title: Assistant MEP Consultant
Oranisation: GEM Engineering co.ltd
Vestine is a dynamic and passionate electrical engineer with a keen interest in design and innovation to improve the world around us. Vestine has made significant contributions to various projects, demonstrating her technical expertise and innovative problem-solving skills. She graduated with honors from the University of Rwanda with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Power Engineering. She is a co-founder of the Empower forum, where students share knowledge, learn different simulation software and master design thinking strategies.
Vestine’s role extends as a founding member of PowerHER Rwanda, with the mission to leverage the number of women, their opportunities, and their influence in the Rwandan energy sector. As well as Generation Leadership Academy (GLA) alumni, whose mentorship program tackled good governance and transformative leadership. She is a scholar for Dassault Systemes (DS) Americas Corporation, which is a global software company with a desire to increase the number of women engineers in 3D software throughout the world to advance women and technology. Her role as an electrical engineer allowed her to work on projects that aligned with her passion for sustainability.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Uwase's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Maintaining team members' engagement, motivation, and alignment with the organization's objective is a continuous challenge. However, recognizing and addressing factors affecting morale is essential for sustained productivity.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My leadership journey began with a deep passion for my field and a genuine desire to make a positive impact. I took my first steps as a leader in high school when I discovered my passion for technology and its potential to transform lives. I was very involved in various associations, which was a step toward creating a positive impact beyond the classroom. This allowed me to develop leadership skills that I carried into my career.
As time went by, I became involved in numerous professional bodies, committees, and initiatives at different levels. This allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals and share my passion for technology. Today, my leadership journey continues to evolve as I seek opportunities to drive positive change. By attending energy sector events and conferences and networking with colleagues.
As well as connecting with mentors who provide guidance, share experiences, and offer advice on navigating the challenges of being a female engineer. Moreover, encourages a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion. Promoting mutual support among colleagues and fostering an environment where everyone can thrive. Each step of this journey has shaped my unwavering commitment to excellence and a deep sense of purpose.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Normally, I wake up at 6:30 a.m. to allow for a calm and gradual start with ample time for self-care. Then engage in a morning routine that includes reading, journaling to set a positive tone for the day, and meditation twice a week. After that, I review and respond to urgent emails, especially those from team members or supervisors.
Fuel my body with a healthy breakfast to sustain energy throughout the morning. Start working at 8:30 a.m. by engaging with team members through virtual or in-person meetings to discuss ongoing projects, address concerns, and provide updates.
At 12:30 p.m., I take a break for lunch to recharge. Allocate the afternoon for hands-on tasks related to project implementation, in-person site meetings, or coordination. After 7 p.m., I do exercise, mostly running four times a week. Late in the afternoon, I dedicated this time to my professional development. I follow up on my online courses and read industry publications to stay current in the field.
As well as meeting with fellow initiative teams and committees. Ensuring a clear plan of action for the following morning. Moreover, I enjoy dinner to refuel, relax, and pursue personal pursuits such as spiritual relationships. Engaging in leisure activities by allowing time to unwind before bedtime. Last, I sleep at 11:00 p.m. for a consistent sleep schedule to ensure adequate rest. However, sometimes the sleep schedule changes during project-critical times.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I’ve learned the importance of embracing vulnerability as a strength. I recognized that I didn't have to have all the answers and discovered the power of transparency and openness when facing challenges. Initially, I was hesitant to admit uncertainty in certain technical aspects, but then I realized that acknowledging gaps in knowledge and seeking input from my team enhanced collaboration. This experience taught me that vulnerability, far from a weakness, can be a catalyst for building trust and fostering a more collaborative and innovative work culture.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
One impactful book that has had a profound impact on my leadership so far is “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg. This book explores gender dynamics in the workplace and offers insights into how women can navigate their careers and aspire to leadership roles.
After reading "Lean In," I found inspiration and guidance on overcoming gender-related challenges in my industry. This book encouraged me to lean into my career ambitions, assert myself in meetings, and negotiate for opportunities. It prompted me to actively seek mentorship and advocate for my achievements. This book's emphasis on fostering a supportive work environment and empowering women to pursue leadership roles resonated deeply.
It not only heightened my awareness of gender biases but also motivated me to be a catalyst for change within our community, advocating for inclusivity and equality. "Lean In" became a foundational resource that contributed to my professional growth and impact as a female in the field of electrical engineering.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Embrace continuous learning and humility. As a young leader, recognize that growth comes from both successes and failures. Stay curious, seek feedback, and be open to evolving. Embracing a humble mindset fosters adaptability, resilience, and a willingness to learn from every experience, ultimately contributing to your long-term success as a leader.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
As a female electrical engineer, I noticed the struggle females face to assert themselves in a male-dominated field. I co-founded the Empower forum with my peers throughout the university. After recognizing the potential within ourselves, we took a proactive mentoring approach by providing guidance, encouraging participation in workshops, and highlighting the engineer's achievements through story-telling and collaboration with our alumni and guest experts in the field.
Over time, the team members developed confidence, enthusiastically adding ideas and finally taking over the forum right after we left. The mentorship not only empowered them but also transformed team dynamics. This story emphasizes the profound impact of mentorship and empowerment on fostering leadership skills and diversity in the early stages of a career.