Rising Star Awards: What happened next for Frida Nzaba

Frida Nzaba

WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their eighth year.

The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 25 different industries and professions.

Over the year’s, the awards have recognised over 700 women across the UK and India.

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.

We spoke to Frida Nzaba, who won a Rising Star Award in Science and Engineering, in 2021.

If someone told me 10 years ago I would be working for Rolls Royce, I would have asked them, why would I want to work in a dirty garage fixing expensive cars?

In year 10 I realised I genuinely loved engineering. I enjoyed learning about the different machining processes such as turning and milling and the fact that I was able to apply some of these techniques to basically manufacture my coursework. I remember engineering was one of the subjects I always looked forward to because it was fun, practical and contained maths and physics that actually made sense to me.

In year 11, my engineering teacher advertised the amazing apprenticeships available, which were rarely encouraged in my school.

Initially, an apprenticeship was not an option for my family, it was in my parents’ interest that I follow the ‘traditional route’ to higher education. Eventually after months of research and convincing my family, I decided to undertake an apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce in 2013.

I completed my apprenticeship and secured my first job in Rolls-Royce Hucknall as the Trent 700 component owner and a computer aided process planner (CAPP) alongside studying for my Mechanical Engineering Degree; I graduated in 2017.

I currently work as a Repair and Overhaul Manufacturing Engineer in Rolls-Royce Plc. This role consists of developing and implementing methods that can be used to repair various components from a jet engine. The main thing I enjoy is the fact that I can go into work and see various jet engines being stripped and assembled ready to dispatch to the customer; this is just simply mind blowing. I am also a board member of the WISE Campaign Young Professionals Board.

In 2019, I founded a non-profit social enterprise with two other great engineers. The enterprise aims to bridge the gap between STEM education and industry globally. I have mentored a dozen of young people, advising them of the options available to them after they finish their GCSEs and promoting them towards carrying out an apprenticeship. I am an advocate for Diversity and Inclusion, this has led to me becoming an active member and STEM lead for the Rolls Royce African and Caribbean Pioneers Network which is an Employee Resource Group within the company. I am also a STEM ambassador for Rolls-Royce and Nottinghamshire.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a Rising Star award?

I was really excited and shocked at the same time! I was shocked because I was nominated a few years ago for the Rising Star Award and I did not get past the shortlisted nominees, which was slightly disappointing. This did have an impact on my self-belief because I felt like I was not good enough or I haven’t achieved or accomplished enough.

So, when I received the good news that I was not only shortlisted, but I won the award! I was super thrilled and grateful to the person that nominated me and the judges who made their final decisions. I am happy that this award ceremony runs every single year because it gives others an opportunity to have hope for the following years.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star award?

This award has certainly propelled me in multiple ways. I was featured on the Rolls-Royce intranet page and received quite a few of my colleagues congratulating me on my achievements; some were even shocked at what I do beyond work and how I support the younger generation and encourage them towards STEM with my social enterprise called ‘Edu-Cater Global’.

I also won the Precious award and Everywoman award therefore winning three amazing awards in a similar time period certainly confirmed to me that I am on the right track with my career and boosted my confidence – I am forever grateful for this.

Through this award I have been able to approach seniors within the company with full confidence and it has also motivated me to keep nominating people who I see make a difference at work and in society in order to further encourage them, so it’s like a domino effect. I want to keep giving more toward women/girls in STEM and paving a way forward. Furthermore, winning such an amazing award has provided me with so much credentials for my social enterprise because people can see my passion and hard work towards STEM.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

I would simply advise them not to be disheartened if they do not win the award, this should encourage them to continue believing in their work and keep doing what they are doing because there is always someone out there watching the work you are doing. And who knows they could win the following years to come…

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers? 

Document all the major projects you are involved in at work whilst it is fresh in your mind.

Do not feel shy to self-nominate for some of the awards – you are certainly worth it, so believe in yourself enough to do so.

I am a Christian so I do my work to the best of my ability, knowing God is watching even when it feels like no one is watching, through this I believe favour will come to enhance your career to the point people may be surprise on how you got to where you are!

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