Women Adore Tech

A rising Aerospace consultant – Vanesa Ruiz Alarcón

Vanesa Ruiz Alarcón is a senior Management Consultant at Accenture where she consults on exciting projects in the aerospace and defence industry. A graduate from leading engineering schools in Europe; a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid followed by a dual master’s jointly offered by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and ISAE-Supaero. She speaks about how she chose to be a consultant despite having a technical background and how she used this to her advantage. Read on to know about her experience as a consultant in the Aerospace industry.

What inspired you to choose Aerospace Engineering?

I grew up in a small village in Spain, just in front of a military airbase. Since I was a kid, I used to watch military airplanes flying almost every day in front of my house. My childhood and love for maths and physics had a clear impact on me when I started searching for potential career paths. I am the first in my family to go to university, so getting to know the different possibilities and their future prospects was a challenge in itself. Thanks to one of my high school teachers, I discovered Aerospace Engineering. I really liked the idea and since then oriented my choices during high school so that I can pursue this as a career. The biggest decision was to move to Madrid for my Bachelor’s. It was frightening because that meant leaving the small village to live alone in a new big city. At the start, it was quite hard and I felt lonely. Nevertheless, I very soon learnt to enjoy the city, made friends, and faced the challenges of the university.

Why did you choose to do a double degree with Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and ISAE-Supero for your masters?

After four years in Madrid, I wanted to see something different and diversify my experience. However, in Spain, if you just do your bachelors, you’re not an engineer with the full capacity to sign engineering projects. A qualifying Spanish Master’s was necessary. In the meantime, I discovered that Universidad Politécnica de Madrid had this double degree program with ISAE-Supaero where one would spend their first year in Madrid followed by doing two years of the French Bachelor’s program at Toulouse. This meant adding one more year to a traditional two-year master’s studies but I decided it was worth it because I would have international experience and a full qualifying engineering curriculum.

What is your role at Accenture?

Currently, I am a Senior Management Consultant at Accenture specialised in the Aerospace and Defence industry. In only four years I have acquired experience in Manufacturing Engineering, Production, Supply Chain and Customer Services. As a consultant, you very often work on new topics and face new challenges, since every project is different and unique. The key to success, and what allows a consultant to add value to his/her client, is being able to capture lessons learnt, step back and extrapolate. If you like change, constantly facing new challenges, and gaining experience by leaps and bounds, this is the path to follow.

How did your educational background help prepare you for your professional experience in Accenture?

My studies in Madrid and my first internship with Airbus were very technical. That’s why in the last year of my bachelor’s I enrolled in a soft skills course (Seedbed program) provided by Airbus and the EOI business school. This course made me realise that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in front of a screen designing, analyzing data, running IT tools and/or making reports. I wanted to go down a different route.
This also influenced my choice of major during my last year at Supaero. I decided to specialise in Decision Sciences and Energy, Transport and Environment. These two majors were extremely useful to improve my skills in management, supply chain, production processes and sustainability. This combination of technical and management formations is very useful today. While I got my management skills from Supaero, the program at Madrid focused on understanding the technical core knowledge and using that to solve brand new problems. This helps me today to quickly understand the challenges of a new project and take relevant decisions, which is essential in a management-level position to provide useful advice.

What is your experience as a management consultant in the aerospace and defence industry? Where would you like to see yourself in the coming years?

For four years, I have participated in very diverse projects, where I got experience in project management, business process definition and improvement, digital transformation, performance improvement, change management and data analysis. The most important thing when starting a new project is to ask the right questions to the right people, understand the problem in-depth, and identify the axis of improvement and relevant action plans.
In the upcoming years, I would like to develop my skills in sustainability and help the aerospace industry transform and reinvent itself to keep operating in a more sustainable world.

What are you proud of in your journey so far?

I would say that this would be my very first experience in Accenture. As an intern, I joined the Supplier On-Boarding team in an IT transformation Purchase-to-Pay project. Even if the subject was completely new to me, very soon I made my place in the team. After six months, I was done with my internship and I became the Supplier On-Boarding team lead.

After taking this role, my first challenge was to make the team grow and integrate 2 new people to accelerate the supplier onboarding rate.
I was really proud of this experience since it demonstrated my capacity to quickly develop new skills and help others grow with me.

What would you like to share with the young girls who want to take the same career path as you?

As a student, I had never really heard about consulting, and I would always imagine myself becoming an expert and contributing to the design of future aircraft. However, changing your opinion is human, and one can discover a new passion at any moment in the career.
My advice is to not be scared of change and always try to follow your instincts. I am happy I became a consultant because it makes every day different and interesting. I have learned and grown by leaps and bounds and have always been able to choose the fields in which I wanted to progress further.
Another key to success is to not be shy and always be confident to share your ambitions and desire for progress. Your managers will not be able to help you if they do not know how and at what pace you want to continue growing.

Believe in yourself, be confident, and do not hold yourself back. Use that self-confidence to achieve higher grounds.

-Vanesa Ruiz Alarcón

Content Editor: Sraddha S Bharadwaj
Reviewer: Maanasa Sachidanand
Interviewer: Maanasa Sachidanand

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