(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Here is our interview with Heather Beem, a mechanical engineer and co-creator of solutions to global challenges. She is the CEO/Founder of Practical Education Network, a STEM education venture facilitating hands-on teaching and learning in West Africa.
What makes you do what you do?
I’m excited about the impact that hands-on teaching and learning can have in global development. That’s why I’ve moved to Ghana and am building an organization (Practical Education Network) that equips STEM teachers to utilize experiential pedagogies.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Well, I didn’t really take a normal path to end up where I find myself today. But I would say that I’ve tried to take advantage of opportunities around me to build skills that I’ve wanted to develop. For example, in graduate school, I found avenues for gaining experience in international development. And being in the field here has helped me develop perseverance in working towards goals that I have set my mind on.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup?
I hope that I can continually challenge myself in my professional career. And I believe that God has equipped each of us with skills that we should use to improve our world. That drives me to try my best to make an impact.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
Yes, I’m thankful to have a couple of mentors that encourage and challenge me personally and professionally. I was connected to one through a competition that my venture won, and I sought out the other one.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I’ve started building my team this year, so I am just now learning how to best find and grow talent. But I can say that being a self-learner is a huge plus in my eyes. I like to give my teammates freedom to develop their projects as they see best. And it is my aim that they will grow to exceed both my own and their own expectations for what they can achieve.
Advice for others?
If there’s something on your heart to do, give it a shot! At PEN, we are working on expanding our hands-on science teacher training beyond Greater Accra.
Follow us on social media to hear how it goes: @practicaleducation on Instagram