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3 May 2018

Meet Caroline Söderqvist of the Champions Trust

As a helicopter technician, Caroline Söderqvist is no stranger when it comes to knowing what it feels like being a woman is a male-dominated field.

Addressing this stereotype is a one of her key objectives as she embraces her role as one of the newest members of the WorldSkills Champions Trust, a collective of young professionals who are helping advocate and promote the WorldSkills message.

“It is not easy being a woman in this kind of male-dominated field, and I’ve encountered some difficulties,” said the 24-year-old from Mjölby, Sweden. "My hope is that the more women people see in these types of fields, the easier it will get for them, and also that it becomes obvious to everyone all over the world that women belong there as well." 

"Part of why I wanted to be a member of the WorldSkills Champions Trust was to set that example. I think promoting and lifting women who are in the business is the best way to make people aware, and make everyone realize that we can do this job as well."

“In this way, I think skills competitions are the best way to display skills. To shine light on them, get people’s attention, and make them aware of these career paths that they otherwise might not even had considered or knew existed. Same thing goes for the more gender specific skills. It shows the world that there are talented women and men working in the different skills, and it might open the eyes of those still holding on to the stereotypes."

Setting an example if just one of the goals Caroline has set for herself during her tenure as a representative of the Champions Trust.

“I hope to make connections all around the world and share experiences and learn from each other, to cooperate with people to help make the world a better place, and improve the world with the power of skills,” she said. "But mostly, I hope to have a lot of fun and I look forward to getting to know the group a lot better, and make friends for life." 

"This will be a life changing adventure, and I look forward to seeing what we as a group can achieve together, and how I can grow as a person."

Caroline has recently competed in the Aircraft Maintenance at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, having entered the same category in her home nation’s 2016 competition.

"My first Competition was the Swedish National Competition in May 2016,” she recalled. "Going in to the Competition, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what to expect." 

"I had been working for a few years, and relied on my experience. I went in, did my best, and ended up winning my skill." 

"That was huge for me, because it was as if I proved to myself that I am good at what I do and that I deserve to be here. It gave me a new perspective, showing me there are endless opportunities just waiting to be pursued. It was overall a very fun experience, and it gave me a lot of confidence to take on other challenges.”

Caroline built on that experience to enter the international stage at the WorldSkills Competition in October 2017.

"It was stressful in so many ways, and I don’t think people outside of the Competition will ever be able to understand it completely." 

"But it was an amazing opportunity to push myself, try new things, and grow as a person, and I don’t regret a second of it." 

"Also, the pride of representing my country in that big of a Competition, and the professional pride, is an incredible feeling. There’s nothing like it, and it’s something that I will always carry with me.”

For Caroline, it is the variety of her chosen skill which led her to embrace it has her chosen profession.

"Every aircraft is different and behaves differently, and so you never know exactly what you’re going to find during your inspections,” she explained. "Also, there are so many different areas within the skill, and so you are never fully taught because there are always new things to learn." 

"For me, I don’t get tired of doing the same thing over and over, because one day I could be doing inspections on the helicopter and the next I’m doing sheet metal repairs." 

“There is a constant variety - and that is important to me. Also, I like the huge responsibility I have – without us, the technicians and mechanics, the aircraft wouldn’t fly.”

When asked how embracing vocational skills has impacted her, Caroline said, "it has made a huge difference. It has opened doors to opportunities I could never even dream of." 

"When I got back to work after the Competition, I had the opportunity to work with sheet metal full-time; something I probably wouldn’t be doing if it wasn’t for the Competition." 

"But the biggest change in my life is the fact that I get to be a part of WorldSkills Champions Trust." 

"Since becoming a part of it in the beginning of the year, it has made my everyday life so much more fun." 

"I get to do my job, but then when I get home I am staying connected with WorldSkills through this channel. I get to continue my journey with World Skills, work with people from all around the world, and go places I never thought I would." 

"It’s an ongoing learning process, and I love every second of it!"