An Interview with Ofri Lev
Engineering traditionally has been a male-dominated field, but a new generation of talented female engineers are making an impact and contributing to some of ICL’s most important projects. Ofri Lev is an ICL process engineer who began her career in Israel’s harsh Dead Sea environment and continues to embrace the challenges of this demanding, but highly rewarding, profession.
As part of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Ofri about her work as a process engineer at ICL and what originally inspired her to enter the world of engineering. She was kind enough to tell us about her experiences and to offer some valuable advice to other young women who want to become engineers.
Hi Ofri, what inspired you to pursue a career in process engineering, and how did you get started in the field?
It was a gut feeling, I really enjoyed my studies and thrived on the academic and practical challenges. I started working as a student in the Dead Sea and loved it from day one. I continued in the field after graduating and haven’t looked back.
As a young woman in a male-dominated field, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I work alongside my colleagues and I know what I’m worth, my colleagues at work understand this, respect, and appreciate me. Gender is seldom an issue if you are good at your job and are a team player. ICL has created a culture that respects hard work and talent. It’s about what you can do – not who you are.
In your opinion, what can the engineering industry do to attract more young and ambitious women like yourself to the field?
To a large extent, it’s a question of awareness. A lot of girls in high school and young women at university don’t know much about the field of engineering. They might have the abilities but aren’t aware of the opportunities. It’s important to let women in the field speak to girls in high school to expose them to the idea of studying engineering. We can also offer scholarships to women in engineering degrees, and promote women in management.
How do you believe your work as a process engineer can contribute to creating a more equitable and sustainable world?
Any kind of sustainable future depends entirely on technology and technical innovation; that includes engineering. The goal is to break away from obsolete models that caused environmental (or human) damage or depleted finite resources. My work as an ICL process engineer contributes directly to that vision.
How do you stay updated with current happenings?
If the question refers to professional updates, the company sends me on courses in order to extend my knowledge of current technologies. I also love to read and follow engineering projects in other countries. If engineering is to help improve the human condition and create a healthier environment, it’s important to understand the issues and challenges – and see the opportunities.
In honor of International Women’s Day, are there any women engineers or engineering projects that you admire or find inspiring?
My professor in college Oshrat Ontman, who taught me how to think like an engineer and encouraged me to pursue work in the field. As for engineering projects that inspire me – take your pick. I find water desalination projects fascinating (working in the Dead Sea area really brings home how vital clean water supplies are). ICL is doing some really interesting work with high capacity batteries that can potentially revolutionize the transport system and energy generation. The whole field of engineering is full of inspiration!
What are some current or upcoming process engineering projects that you’re excited about?
I am working on several machine learning projects that greatly excite me. Machine learning has so many across the board applications that it’s almost impossible to say where it will take us. I feel like I’m working on the cutting edge of process engineering.
How do you balance your work as a process engineer with other aspects of your life, such as family or hobbies?
Pretty much the same way that anybody else does. After work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and my pet rabbit. I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country and I enjoy nature and the local area. It’s very important to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Engineering is a demanding profession and you need to come back to work refreshed and full of enthusiasm for the next challenge.
Any message for fellow young women?
If you’re interested in something, go and do it. Don’t be afraid of failure, it’s just part of the learning process. If you have an ability, interest, or passion for something, it’s important to use it and not to drift into a job or profession that doesn’t fulfill you. Don’t think in terms of stereotypes, either for yourself or other people. You are an individual and you should work hard to reach your own potential. That could be as an engineer, or as a member of any other profession in the world.
ICL is proud to be opening up the field of engineering to a new generation of talented women. We are succeeding in creating a vibrant modern workplace that welcomes female engineers. We also focus on building a working environment that nurtures individual talent and ability and provides genuine mentorship and a supportive career structure.
ICL is establishing itself as a role model within the wider field of engineering and is reaching out to girls and women who are interested in scientific and technical careers. Our commitment to sustainable business practices, community initiatives, and environmental responsibility is attracting some of the world’s most highly motivated and talented people.