IRI e-Innovation News
The Importance of Mentors
When asking Lara Harrington, Chief Engineer and Senior Director of Technology Outreach at Honda R&D Americas, what makes a successful leader, her answer is, without hesitation:
"I am constantly striving to improve myself, and having good role models has certainly been my most important asset in my development both personally and professionally," Harrington said. "At Honda, I am fortunate enough to work among great engineers and terrific leaders---some of whom I try to emulate in leadership style."
Ms. Harrington's interest in cars began at a very young age, when working alongside her father on a list of vehicle projects. "My dad never placed a box around work appropriate for a girl versus a boy. I was raised in a family with three daughters, no sons; so if my dad needed a timing belt changed, or small hands to find a lost screw, I was always there willing to assist. It was when I became older, starting in my teen years, that I realized the world viewed things a little differently. By that time, my sense of who I was, and the things I was good at, had already been developed."
She also spoke about unique challenges faced by women in the automotive industry, an environment that is overwhelmingly all male. "I realized pretty early on that I needed to look outside my industry to find female role models whom I could look up to and try to emulate. Madeline Albright is someone who I will always be amazed and inspired by, for instance."
In addition to the importance of finding good role models, Ms. Harrington stresses the importance of networking. "Networking is another opportunity one can use to build themselves as a successful engineer. I am in a unique role in the organization, engaging often with universities, laboratories, and suppliers. The people I meet and the places I go have allowed me access to pools of knowledge I would have otherwise never known existed," she says. "As researchers, we have to always remind ourselves that we are not an island; we don't know everything. We need others, we need to collaborate, and we need to ensure that our collaborations span well beyond our discipline and our industry. This is why I support IRI."
Read more of the November newsletter...