11 Questions in 11 Minutes

This month, we’re showcasing Lucia Fullalove FICorr MSc BSc. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Lucia is now Director of Fullalove & Associates Consultancy, working in industries such as civil construction, petrochemical, and automotive.

Here are the 11 questions we posed in the 11 minutes we took of Lucia’s valuable time.

1.     What did you aspire to be when you were younger?

From the time I could talk, I wanted to be a medical doctor, but I ended up studying Chemical Engineering at Rio de Janeiro State University. Half of the class of 40 were women.

2.     So, how did you end up as a corrosion specialist?

After graduating, I was torn between doing a master’s degree or getting a job. The lack of money won, and I started as a Quality Control and Process Control Engineer in a composite manufacturing plant. Immediately, I was working in corrosion.

In my second job as a quality control engineer at another manufacturing plant, my work became more varied and challenging. I had to learn and be responsible for the quality of various surface treatment processes, such as paint, hot dip galvanising, electroplating, and anodizing. I was also responsible for training other quality inspectors.

Why study corrosion? Coming from Brazil to rainy Manchester and salt on roads… never be out of work!

3.     What were those first jobs like?

Stressful work, but never boring!

In my first job, I had to travel three hours to work, and three hours back. The people, and some of the challenges I faced, made it all worth it.

Those challenges ranged from getting over initial perceptions of me (I looked young for my age, so the foreman and production workers often assumed I lacked knowledge), to dealing with a snake I found in a toilet!

4.     What made you move to the UK?

Love! In 1983, I married a British engineer. I’d met him working in a train depot in Rio. The rest, as they say, is history.

5.     How did you find the transition from Brazil to the UK?

In many ways, difficult.

When I arrived in the UK, my first thoughts were that I had come to the country where the industrial revolution happened. I remember thinking that this must be the promised land for all engineers.

To have my degree recognised here, I needed to complete an MSc in Corrosion Science, which I gained in 1984 at the University of Manchester. I was stunned to find that there were only three women in my class of 40. I quickly learned why. The industry was dominated by men.

It took me eight months and 800 letters to get my first job here. Some of the responses I received mentioned how engineering was a ‘dirty profession’ and not suited to women! I can tell you, I had to keep my Latin temperament in check.

Eventually, though, I landed a great position as Process Engineer at Lotus in Norfolk.

From there, I became the first fully qualified female engineer at Rolls Royce Cars, where I worked at Rolls Royce as a Research and Development Engineer, then as a Coatings Specialist at an industrial corrosion consultancy. Eventually, I joined the Highways Agency. While there, I helped to instigate the Institute of Corrosion Industrial Coating Applicator Training Scheme (ICATS).

6.     What career advice would you give to a young corrosion specialist?

Choosing engineering is still not an easy option for women. I’ve faced prejudices along the way. Nevertheless, I have had a productive, enjoyable, and fulfilling career. If I had to start again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Go for it, and never give up – and have fun along the way. Four key pieces of advice I would give to all today are:

  1. Sometimes it’s good to be bossy ─ if your intentions come from a place of expertise.
  2. Walk through floors and talk to people. Help them understand the ‘why’ of what they are doing, and engage them in the process of corrosion protection.
  3. You want to be respected? Then respect others first – give and you will receive.
  4. Take the initiative to train people. Give lessons in what people are doing and teach others about corrosion.

7.     What is in store for corrosion professionals?

I have experienced many challenges during my career. These include cultural change, working in a foreign language, and gaining acceptance as a female engineer in a field that is still predominantly male.

I hope, and feel, that some of these prejudices are now being overcome, and I think that more women will enter the industry.

8.     What have you gained from your membership of ICorr?

This is easy to answer. The more active you are within the Institute, the more you’ll get out of it. My membership of ICorr has helped me to develop my professional network, provided me with learning opportunities, given me chances to help to train others, and to help improve corrosion knowledge in multiple industries around the world.

Let’s get personal with the corrosion professional!

We know that corrosion scientists aren’t all work and no play, so we asked Lucia three final questions to learn a little more about her personally.

9.     What’s your favourite food?

I have a very eclectic taste in food, and there isn’t much that I don’t enjoy. But my favourite foods must be French, Portuguese, and Spanish: I adore Mediterranean tastes and seafood. Oh, and red wine with almost everything!

10. What do you like doing most outside of your professional life?

When I’m away from my day job, I work as a volunteer as a STEM ambassador to encourage youngsters to take up engineering. I think it’s important to pass on knowledge and experience to the younger generation.

To take myself away from my work and the science world, I walk a lot. This gets me into nature and helps me relax, as does reading different things.

11. Tell us a secret about yourself, something that might surprise fellow members (and something we can print!)

Here are two things that may surprise you.

First, I’m a Reiki Master. I’ve had to find ways to destress and relax, and Reiki has proved to be invaluable to me. As a Reiki Master, I help others achieve the relaxation that improves energetic balance and supports healing.

Second, before I could read or write, I learned music. In Brazil, music is taught by colour. I used to play the accordion. Perhaps I should take it up again…

What do you want to ask a corrosion specialist?

Now, over to you. Let us know what you’d like us to ask the next ICorr member we put in the hotseat for 11 questions in 11 minutes. Send us an email, and we’ll try to include your question.