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Helena van Mierlo - Senior Engineer, Planning

Helena van Mierlo

What is unique about your job?
It requires an understanding of several areas and disciplines that need to be linked together, such as end-user needs for Earth observation, the development of space technology, and all the organizational aspects and government processes that turn plans into reality.

Which professional accomplishment are you the most proud of?
I led the team that made a successful business case for the Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat). I'm very proud to have brought together Canadian industry, academia and other government departments to collaborate on this mission.

Who or what helped you the most throughout your career?
The backing of my husband and my positive attitude.

What advice would you offer to girls or women?
Choose to work for someone who has the capability to see your full potential.

How do / did you reconcile work commitments and your family life?
The key to my success in combining family life with work life is to keep both worlds completely separate. When I am in one, I do not think about the other. I avoid working from home and definitely never work while my family is present. In addition, the number of hours I work is fixed, and I adapt the amount of work to this time limit (not the other way around), based on priorities. Finally, I always keep a log of the hours that I work and what project or file I dedicated the time to. This way I never get the feeling of "where did all my time go today?" It helps me to stay focussed on the tasks with the highest priority, and it indicates whether I went over my time limit, which I consider a bad thing.

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