SAAB Air · ·

She is the Designer of Fighter Jets!

Saab Gripen

Charlie Westrin‘s day starts by sitting down at her computer and starting up the programmes she needs for the day’s work.

But it’s not enough to sit on her own and work. Charlie talks a great deal with other departments at Saab in order to get their input. She is a designer of the Gripen mid-section and there is very little that does not need to be discussed with others.

Charlie Westrin

–          “It’s not just about the design itself. I have to design a part that can be manufactured, that fits into place – there are lots of things that need to fit into a small area – and that copes with the stresses it will be subjected to,” she says.

–          “There are always new challenges and we must compromise until we find a solution that satisfies everyone before moving on in the process,” says Charlie.

Charlie works iteratively, holding regular meetings with other disciplines.

–          “I am a flexible person. In the product development process, I often receive input that means everything has changed, but I have no problem with sudden changes and adapting to them. I also think working with CAD is fun and I have no trouble understanding how to work with Catia (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application).

I am also a very empathetic person,” says Charlie, adding that she believes all sorts of people are needed in a  workplace.

–          “You can define ‘sort’ any way you like – it doesn’t have to be gender or orientation, or origin. A more varied workplace is simply more fun and offers a broader approach.

–          It doesn’t matter if my colleagues are male or female, I treat everyone the same. Personality and competence are what matter.”

Early interest in technology

Charlie believes that to increase diversity in the workplace it is important to focus on young people and to inspire young talents to embark on a career in technology.

–          “I became interested in technological development at an early age,” says Charlie. “I wanted to have a video game when I was little but I didn’t get one. So I built a pinball machine instead.

Charlie has always been into making things and she emphasises how incredible a child’s imagination is. “It is important to praise creativity,” she says, adding that her parents always supported her.

–          “I come from a family of engineers so an interest in technology is natural for us. My wife, on the other hand, is the first engineer in her family.  But her parents have always encouraged her and told her she can do it.

–          Technology is fun. Not all tasks are fun, but it’s great to be able to use technology, mathematics and science to understand the things that are happening around you,” says Charlie.

When Charlie graduated from university, she thought that she would work with product development in short cycles and with soft products.

–          “But when Saab were looking for a designer for Gripen, I was fascinated at the thought of working for such a pioneering company with such an amazing, complex product.

–          It is important for me that Saab is a company that enables internal mobility. There is huge potential to develop and find the right job within the company and that feels reassuring,” says Charlie.

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