Amy Maharati of McLaren Applied: “There’s no such thing as a male area or female area"
Amy Maharati is an Embedded Software Engineer at McLaren Applied. She studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Manchester and during her time there, she never thought she would end up in the automotive industry.
After attending careers fairs and speaking to people who worked in the industry, Amy was surprised by how many electronics there are in a car. It wasn’t until she had these conversations that she realised that working in the automotive industry would be a good fit for her.
When Amy left university, she worked with Jaguar Land Rover on a graduate scheme initially, before progressing to control system engineer. However, Amy always wanted to work for the McLaren brand, so constantly checked their careers site to see if any available roles were suited to her.
“I found a role that actually fit my previous role and experience very well, so I just gave it a go,” Amy says. “I sent my CV in and they accepted.”
Amy’s role at McLaren Applied involves designing the software that goes into computers within cars. It has similarities to a normal software engineering role, but her job consists of working with software embedded into a specific computer, hence her job title.
“Currently, I work on the McLaren Applied IPG5 Silicon Carbide Inverter project,” she says. “This product enables electric vehicles to be more powerful, efficient, and faster charging, so I’m not actually in motorsport but the performance of the inverter is expected to be widely used in some motorsport series.
“I design application software for the inverter. It's a software that runs on top of the basic software of the inverter. For example, it may read sensor readings, detect that a fault has occurred and perform a specific action to keep the system safe”
Amy often finds herself solving problems in her role, and that’s one of her favourite things about working at McLaren Applied.
“I like collaborating with people and it’s very nice when you come together as a group, have one common goal and try to solve problems together,” Amy says. “Everyone has their own input.
“When the solution actually works, to see the final product and to see all your hard work pay off is very rewarding.”
Amy highlights the importance of taking care of yourself when working in a high-pressure role like hers, and that’s a challenge she faces. She adds that it’s important to have a break and not put too much pressure on yourself, especially when working with deadlines.
Speaking to women who worked in the automotive and motorsport industry was crucial in making Amy realise that this could be a potential career for her.
“It’s very important to show younger girls that we are able to work in these areas,” Amy says. “There’s no such thing as a male area or a female area; it’s for everybody. My mum was an engineer so I had that visibility growing up, it never occurred to me as a child that people considered engineering ‘a man’s job’.”
“I like Formula 1 and although I don’t work in motorsport, working in a similar area is cool and it’s important to inspire and show women that we are able to be in this area too.”
Amy, as a Formula 1 fan, recognises that it’s a tough environment and that having successful women in the paddock is important to inspire younger generations.
“Not just for people in motorsport or automotive, but for people in other engineering fields,” she says. “It’s inspiring to see that we can cope with pressure.”
She remembers seeing Lewis Hamilton together with Stephanie Travers, Petronas’ trackside fuel engineer, on the podium after his win at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix. Stephanie was the first black woman to stand on the F1 podium.
“You don’t see a lot of women on the podium – engineers included,” Amy says. “We are able to do it. It’s not just men who can do it.”
As a woman, Amy hasn’t faced any direct discrimination in her role, or in her engineering career. However, there is always unconscious bias. When she was at university, people were often surprised to learn that she studied engineering.
“Once they know what you do, especially in my job, there’s no discrimination,” she says. “It’s more about navigating that unconscious bias that people have.”
Amy is one of the women from McLaren Applied involved in the Females in Motorsport x McLaren Applied STEM Search competition. You can find out more about the opportunities available here.
“It’s an amazing initiative and I’m excited to help younger girls and women, to inspire them to choose a career path that maybe they never thought of,” Amy says. “I want to help open up the possibilities of them choosing a career in automotive and motorsport. ”
Amy is passionate about sharing advice with young women wanting to work in any engineering field.
“You will never get anything unless you try,” she says. “Just do it…Don’t be afraid and just trust yourself.”
This article is part of our Females in Motorsport x McLaren Applied STEM Search competition. To apply for a day at the McLaren Technology Centre and mentorship from a woman at McLaren Applied click here.