For me, finding my passion for a career was an evolving process. Growing up on a farm, where hard work was an expectation, I learned at a young age the value of a strong work ethic over pure skill or talent alone. Armed with the desire to help others, I considered becoming either a doctor or pursuing a career in sports medicine, but quickly learned my skills and passions were better suited to support the pharmaceuticals industry as an engineer.

I graduated from Kansas State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering. In addition to being a new college graduate, I had the added challenge of beginning my career as a woman in the traditionally male-dominated world of engineering. I quickly found my place as an engineer supporting pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities at a consulting engineering firm, where I gained extensive experience in the industry for nearly a decade.

I joined Burns & McDonnell in 2015, where I worked my way up to my current position of pharmaceutical department manager. In my short time here at the company, I have helped, along with other leaders in the company, establish the Life Sciences Group. The team supports the gamut of subindustries within life sciences, including gene therapy, biotech, aseptic fill/finish, oral solid/liquid dosage, nutraceuticals and medical devices.

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the work my team completes for the pharmaceutical industry has never been more important to support production of medicine that may be experiencing supply chain disruption. Additionally, a vaccine for COVID-19 or other future pharmaceutical needs will be a service vitally supported by teams such as ours providing critical support for pharmaceutical facility development.

My advice for young women and other new college graduates entering the world of engineering is to not lose sight of the perspective that you uniquely bring to a role. Diversity can make for a well-rounded team and should be embraced. Network and make as many genuine connections as you can to grow your professional community. Remember that this is a long process and will develop over your entire career. Furthermore, when you focus on what you can do to help others, their natural reaction is to try to return the favor, so align yourself with people who have similar goals and see how successful you can help them become, too.

Amber Yount is pharmaceutical department manager at Burns & McDonnell. Specializing in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, Amber has over a decade of experience in design and management of regulated facilities.