Finding Your Professional Path: Interview With Mingyao Gong

Not enjoying my engineering job was the greatest challenge I faced in my career.


Mingyao Gong is a sales engineer for Dynamic Ratings, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering.  In this interview she is sharing an inspiring personal story of a woman who found she didn’t like the career she had chosen, but managed to find her place in the industry where now she uses the knowledge of electrical engineering as an asset while working in an entirely different role.


WPS Mingyao, thank you so much for joining us for this interview. It’s great to have you.

Mingyao Gong Thank you for inviting me.


WPS Mingyao, we are always curious about how women first started in the electric power industry and what inspired them to select this career. What was it for you? How did you decide to pursue a career in the power industry?

MG In my case, that might not be a very inspiring story. I grew up in China, where I completed my entire education, and the educational system there is not designed to help you think thoroughly through what you really want to do when you sign up for university. So, by the time I enrolled, I didn’t really know anything about the world, what I really wanted or what I really liked. I didn’t even think about that. My parents and every other person would agree that I should just do engineering because it’s very practical. “It will be easy for you to find a job after you’ve graduated,” and that’s basically what got me into engineering. I didn’t really choose the major either. I signed up for three potential engineering paths: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and something else. Then I got picked by the Electrical Engineering Department, and that’s how I started. So, nothing really inspired me. I just got into engineering, not driven by a particular interest at all.

Photo credit: Dynamic Ratings

My parents and every other person agreed that I should do engineering because it was practical. “It will be easy for you to find a job after you’ve graduated,” and that’s what got me into engineering. I wasn’t driven by any particular interest at all.

WPS It is really interesting how we fall into different careers and end up in professions that we get into. When you think about the things that you’re interested in and you like to do, did engineering work out to be one of those things? Did you find that some of the skills and desires that you had helped you in your role as an engineer when you first started?

MG Absolutely. But, by the time I finished my masters, I realized that I wasn’t interested in being an engineer at all. I’m not inspired by that. And I started to question what I was doing, and why I was doing it. I finished my masters and I had wasted so much time on those degrees and starting in something that I’m not really interested in. This is what I realized when I joined the first company working as an electrical engineer. I was required to do design and all the testing of the equipment, which I didn’t really enjoy. This was quite a painful realization, and I blew up so many electrical circuit boards in the process, which was not really helping. That was a really hard time for me because this was everything I knew, and I invested so much time into studying electrical engineering just to realize that I didn’t want that career.

By the time I finished my masters, I realized that I wasn’t interested in being an engineer at all. That was quite painful because this was everything I knew, and I invested so much time into studying electrical engineering just to realize that I didn’t want that career.

I completed my masters in the Netherlands, and then I went back to Beijing for another engineering job, and then I moved to Melbourne, and that changed everything.

In Melbourne I joined Dynamic Ratings as a Sales Engineer and my experience here has made me feel that all the experience and education I obtained before was worth it and a huge help. Right now, I’m on the right track because in my current role I do sales and not engineering, but I can use all the engineering background to excel in my job. I talk the same language as engineers. I know what they are talking about. I know what problems they are having and I know who the right person will be to solve the problem for them. So now I’m really enjoying my work, and I’m enjoying coordinating all the resources together, trying to understand people’s needs. It’s a great transition that happened in my mind.

When I joined Dynamic Ratings as a Sales Engineer, I realized that all the experience and education I obtained before was worth it and a huge help. Now I use my electrical engineering background to excel in my job.

WPS This is really great. It sounds like you found something that you never expected to enjoy because you’re able to take what you learned and actually apply it in a different way. What were some of the challenges you might have had to overcome going from a very technical role into a sales and technical role?

MG I think my challenges were greater when I was an engineer and I had to do all the design and testing and hands-on work which I wasn’t interested in. It was a struggle to do something I didn’t enjoy. But right after I became a sales engineer, where I got to combine engineering knowledge with, let’s call them softer skills like interacting with people, I really found my fit. Being an engineer and having an analytical and detail-oriented mind helps my sales role. Now all the engineering skills and background is really helping me with what I am currently doing. I feel really lucky to have been able to find the right fit for me.

So back to your question: Challenges. Right now, I don’t have any challenges. I’m just enjoying my work every day and all the new challenges. Not enjoying my engineering job was the real challenge for me.

Becoming a sales engineer, I got to combine electrical engineering knowledge with softer skills like interacting with people, and I really found my fit.

Photo credit: Dynamic Ratings

WPS What support did you have from people within your organizations or outside that helped push or get you into the spot where you are now?

MG I’ve received a lot of support from people in the industry, no matter where in the world, the Netherlands, China or here in Australia, who have helped me along the way. Right now, my direct manager is both my mentor and my friend, and I am so grateful for that. He has guided me along the way and helped me really think about what I want as a person, and what I want from my career, so I can plan ahead. And he’s been very supportive in whatever I chose to pursue because I’ve changed my directions multiple times after I joined the company.

A lot of other people in the industry have helped me by sharing knowledge and that’s really one of the things I truly appreciate and feel grateful about. Being a female in the industry where the majority of people are male, I have to say I’ve received a lot of support from both men and women. We inspire each other and we talk on a regular basis, which is great.

Photo credit: Mingyao Gong

This industry is huge and whatever you’re interested in, even if it isn’t purely electrical engineering, there are so many possibilities and so many roles you can work in.

WPS That’s wonderful. It’s great that we see more and more women in these roles, but I think we’re not quite at the point where it’s commonplace. What is something that you would say to encourage women who may want to pursue a career in the power industry?  

MG Based on my own experience, this industry is a really lovely industry. It can be conservative sometimes because the utility power system doesn’t really change much. It’s changing but slowly. But people in the industry are very supporting and love to share, and you will just have so many mentors and people who are willing to help you out. Also, there will be women like me, who don’t really know why they went into engineering in the first place and can’t really see themselves being an engineer. It’s encouraging to know that you can use or learn other skills that can help you find a career in other areas within the power industry and your engineering knowledge will be an asset and help you to enjoy working in this industry. There are different roles you can work in with this industry. In our organization, we have Katie Kossow who works in marketing and she drives it. I’m a sales engineer. And now I get to enjoy all the things I learned from engineering.

This industry is huge and whatever you’re interested in, even if it isn’t purely electrical engineering, there are so many possibilities and so many roles you can work in.

WPS Absolutely. What is the proudest moment that you’ve had so far in your career?

MG Perhaps I don’t have a specific thing, but I think in general, I’m proud of myself to have come to the point where I can really enjoy my work every day. For me, this doesn’t feel like a job. It’s something where I find inspiration and new challenges very day, which really motivates me. For a lot of people, it’s hard to get up on Monday to go to work, but for me, it’s the opposite. My job is helping me improve myself and grow and I see different challenges every day. I feel inspired for other things as well. Beside this job, I’m planning to open up a café with my partner and I found that what I’ve learned working in this industry is also helping me set up the café.
So, I can definitely feel my personal growth, and from where I am now, this makes me really proud.

WPS Are you involved with any women’s organizations, either for engineering or just women’s organizations for any type of encouragement?

MG No, not really. When I first entered the industry, I was a bit reluctant to do that because I didn’t feel like a wanted to be an engineer and all other female engineers in those organizations were inspired or motivated by their profession. They wanted to be an engineer. But right now, I am talking to different people, different women in the industry and I’m actually looking at joining women in engineering more just to see how other women in this industry are doing. Now I’m more open to it.

Beside this job, I’m planning to open up a cafe with my partner and I found that what I’ve learned working in this industry is also helping me set up the café.

WPS Is there anything you would want to say to encourage those getting into the industry?

MG I would just say that whatever role that you go into in the power industry, you will find your way to use your talents and gifts, no matter what your personal interests are.

WPS Thank you so much for your time Mingyao. 



Find more inspiring stories in the Spring edition of the Women in Power Systems Magazine: Professions in Power. Download the free issue here.

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