Allow us to introduce Jeni Mistry.
“There is a need to focus on women in engineering. The numbers are getting better but they’re not there yet.”-Jeni Mistry, as we discuss the purpose of her interview.
Mistry is a Principal Engineer in Transmission and Generation Operations. She has been with SRP for nearly 20 years and has accomplished much, including receiving several high-performance awards for work during her tenure.
Success in engineering
But Mistry’s story began well before she joined SRP. She is originally from India, where she earned an engineering degree focused on instrumentation and controls. Mistry’s first internship was at a power plant, and that is where her interest in power systems was ignited and a career path was set forth.
“It’s been almost 20 years since I came to the U.S.,” said Mistry. “When I got here, I wanted to continue to work in that field but with a broader perspective. So I attended ASU and earned an electrical engineering degree focused on power systems.”
You read that right — Mistry has two engineering degrees. And while she will tell you that earning two degrees was one of her biggest career challenges, she will also say it was a great learning opportunity and a chance to meet new people. She also shared that passion, ultimately, is what kept her going then and continues to do so today.
“I’m very passionate about the dynamics of the power system and proud of what I do. I love what I do,” said Mistry. “It’s the satisfaction that drives me. That I’m contributing to the field that I enjoy working in.”
Where the SRP journey began
It was while she was at ASU that Mistry began an internship with SRP. After completing her degree, she was hired on full time. Since then, she has held several engineering roles ranging from design and planning to operations, which, she explains, broadened her horizons.
“While working at SRP, I was lucky to have received several opportunities from upper management to contribute on high-profile projects,” said Mistry. “They have chosen me several times and recognized my effort, providing opportunities to grow within the organization.”
In addition to internships, SRP offers a Rotational Engineering Program for entry-level jobs perfect for recent college graduates. This opportunity includes six-month rotations over the span of two years with positions available across nearly 50 different departments in chemical, civil, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering.
Leaving a mark
Today, Mistry is able to help pass those opportunities to the next generation as a mother.
“I want to provide my daughter similar opportunities and more to ensure one day she will be successful in her career and help contribute to make the world a better place,” said Mistry.
She draws inspiration as a parent from her own upbringing.
“My dad is my role model,” said Mistry. “We were homeschooled, and his interests were in math and science, so as a kid, I loved math and science. I’ve always dreamed of being an engineer.”
The importance of encouraging young girls to aspire to roles in engineering is a big part of why SRP invests in STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education. For example, SRP awards over $200,000 in classroom grant funds each year as part of its Classroom Connections program.
Inspiring the future
Mistry shared her hopes that in the future there will be more women in lead engineering roles. To reach that goal, she urges other parents to get their daughters out there and encourage them to find out what they’re interested in and recognize their potential.
“I would say to all the women pursuing this path that there are lots of opportunities in engineering. Not just power systems,” said Mistry.
Mistry stressed the importance of not letting implicit bias about who can be an engineer get in the way.
“When you get into the workforce, be willing and open to learn,” said Mistry. “Be willing to inquire, grow and even fail. If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never know your potential, so go for it!”
Mistry has advice for women in the industry now too.
“You will succeed if you have a growth mindset,” explained Mistry.
“If there’s an opportunity out there, take it!” said Mistry. “SRP has a great mentorship program. I’ve also informally mentored women within my department and take pride in how they excel in their careers. We also have a rotation program; the young people come in and they soak in information. We’re providing opportunities for the future.”