Victoria Cerami is the CEO of Cerami Associates, one of the premier acoustical and technology engineering firms in the country. Under Victoria Cerami’s leadership, the company has grown to be the largest woman-owned firm working on building design projects globally. Cerami has worked with world class developers and architects to integrate acoustical engineering into building design.
Victoria Cerami earned a Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hartford and a Master of Business Administration from MIT Sloan School of Management. She is also passionate about the firm’s role in public outreach with a focus on mentorship and sponsorship of women. The firm sponsors a woman each year entering college to study mechanical engineering in honor of her Father, Vito Cerami. We interviewed Ms. Cerami to learn about her work and the opportunities for women in engineering.
Many women may feel intimidated by a entering a male dominated industry like engineering. What can we do to overcome these fears?
The firm was started by my father in 1965, and I took over when he passed away in 1987. I was given an opportunity, a chance, to run a company. I knew I always wanted to be like my father, and I was always interested in math and science, but I didn’t not know anything about running a business. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Holiday, you will remember hearing that in the movies we have leading ladies and best friends, and you have to be the leading lady of your own life. In order to be the leading lady you will need gumption. At 27 years old, trying to make it in a male dominated industry, I had to dig deep to find that gumption. I had the skill and passion, and whatever I didn’t know I would figure out. Inside of you is something, you just have to tap into it.
Today, there are world-famous female architects and engineers who have reached to top of their class. Seek out companies that offer training, mentorship, and growth opportunities.
How can women overcome biases in hiring and in the workplace?
You must instill confidence in those hiring and promoting. Beyond first being confident in yourself, it is so important when you are starting out to find a mentor, and hopefully a sponsor, someone willing to bring you forward and endorse you. Developing that trust with a senior person, whomever it is, and having someone to guide you will be invaluable as you grow in your career.
What are some great engineering jobs for women to consider?
Engineering is everywhere in the world around us. For all of society’s needs or problems, there is an engineer behind the answers to them. There are countless career opportunities within the field of engineering, from biomedical engineering to Walt Disney’s “Imagineering”.
Within the building industry there is a myriad of paths you could choose such as structural, mechanical, civil, electrical, acoustical, transportation, sustainability and more. I’ve found great career fulfillment working as an acoustical and technology engineer with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Any tips for high school students or college interested in engineering? Where should they start?
Take time to focus on building and cultivating relationships. Get involved in student or professional organizations such as ACE Mentor Program of America, the Society of Women Engineers, or NEW (Nontraditional Employment for Women) which all promote mentorship and are abound with resources. Summer internships are also great opportunities to make connections, learn from experts, and hone your skills. Our firm, along with many others in the industry, hosts a summer internship program during which students work directly with our engineers on a variety of project types.
For more information, visit Cerami & Associates.