Source: Linkedin

With our fast-paced work lives and daily routines, many of us rarely take a moment to contemplate how we genuinely feel about what we are dedicating our time and energy toOverwhelmed by day-to-day tasks, we tend to forget to think about what motivates us to push our limits.

Professional networking and employment platform, LinkedIn, hopes to change that. 

In a campaign launched in September, the employment service urged members to ask themselves, "What are you in it for?" and documented some individual stories in eye-opening videos.

In support of the campaign, StepFeed reached out to one remarkable LinkedIn user, Emirati engineer Meera Al-Mheiri, to learn more about her success story and find out what she is in it for.

As the UAE's first female nuclear safety inspector at the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and FANR's first Ambassador of Happiness, Al-Mheiri is an idol for Arab women and women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM.)

It's time you get to know her too. 

Meet Meera Al-Mheiri

Born in Ras Al-Khaimah, UAE, Al-Mheiri has always had a passion for math and physics, so she went on to graduate from Khalifa University with the highest honor in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

Apart from working at the university and the Imperial College of London, she interned at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, a prestigious research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

The 25-year-old now works at FANR, where she conducts inspections to make sure all facilities comply with the necessary regulations.

She also represents the UAE at the OECD Halden Reactor Project, a specialized joint research in Norway studying reactors, nuclear fuel, and human factors.

In March 2016, FANR appointed her as its first "Ambassador of Happiness" as part of the government's efforts to promote happiness.

She also works as part of a consultative arm for the government with regards to youth policies and strategies.

"My country has never hesitated in empowering me all the way to become the person I am today, then why should I hesitate when it comes to giving back and working hard for my country?" she told StepFeed.

In recognition of her hard work, Al-Mheiri has won several awards, including the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Award for Distinguished Academic Performance, the Khalifa University President's List Award for high Academic Standing, along with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation Award for High Academic Standing.

Thought you've experienced the worst of the UAE heat? Al-Mheiri endures it on stifling construction sites

Among the major challenges she has faced in her career is working on-site, which often requires her to go under pipes, confined spaces, and between moving machinery.

"Working on-site is very rough for experienced workers, so imagine how rough it would be for a 23-year-old girl to work in the UAE's hot summer," she explained.

Al-Mheiri suffered heat stress, which caused her to faint, the first time she visited a construction site. Other times, she experienced headaches or heat rashes. 

"Being healthier made me really enjoy the site experience"

Image used for illustrative purposes Source: Frame Pool

However, the tough conditions did not faze her. Instead, she soldiered on and decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle by eating well and working out to increase her endurance. She also makes sure to wear protective equipment at all times. 

As a result, she grew accustomed to conducting field inspections in temperatures as high as 48 degrees Celsius, "without collapsing physically or mentally," she said.

She therefore managed to complete an eight-week rotation in Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the hottest weather in the UAE, during July and August.

"Being healthier made me really enjoy the site experience and learn a lot about different systems and equipment. Practicing yoga also made me very calm and unlikely to stress about work, which increased my performance and willingness to learn and work," Al-Mheiri added.

On getting her voice heard as a young female engineer

Al-Mheiri admitted that as a young woman, she struggled to speak up in some international meetings and work-related missions.

However, with the help of one of her colleagues, she learned how to effectively express her opinions and thus succeeded in leading major projects.

"I shadowed my senior colleague, Mina, who taught me the art of soft power. She taught me that shouting will not necessarily make a valid argument, and it is definitely not the only way to get my voice heard. Instead, I should remain calm, prepare well, ask questions, acquire clarifications, and discuss issues based on facts, not personal opinions," she explained.

On the status of Arab women in STEM

Al-Mheiri praised the UAE's efforts to empower women through initiatives that ensure the advancement of women in both the public and private sectors.

"We need to encourage more girls to have interest in STEM and pursue careers as scientists, engineers, or astronauts, and that needs to start at home or at school," she said. 

As for the message she would send to young women hoping to pursue the field, she said:

"They are privileged because the sky is the limit for their generation. I would like to encourage all the girls to be persistent in following their passion. It does not matter how talented, genius or educated you are, it does not matter how difficult or impossible you think your dreams are. Persistence and determination will certainly overcome any obstacle and help you to achieve your dreams."

She is in it to break down barriers

"I can proudly say that I am in it to break down barriers. In it to inspire other girls, women, and people to pursue their dreams fearlessly and to keep trying, learning, and moving forward till they fulfill their dreams," she wrote on LinkedIn.

Al-Mheiri encourages fresh graduates to use apps like LinkedIn

Knowing the struggles fresh graduates face while kick-starting their careers, Al-Mheiri recommends that students and fresh graduates volunteer as well as take on internships and part-time jobs.

This would help them "get to know the work field and get equipped with the right set of skills."

"This will also help them know what they are passionate about and match them with the suitable employment opportunities. Additionally, they can use apps like LinkedIn to widen their network and expose them to different professional sectors," she explained.

Al-Mheiri uses the employment service herself, saying it helps her "connect with professionals from different parts of the world in various sectors, learn from leaders' success stories and professional journeys, apply for free educational sessions, as well as find job opportunities, scholarships and internships."

"You are who you surround yourself with"

The engineer stressed the importance of making connections in the job market and surrounding oneself with motivated professionals, saying:

"I believe that you are who you surround yourself with, and therefore it is very important to surround yourself with people who are positive, ambitious and ethical - people who accomplish their big dreams through persistence and actions, not only words."

"Whatever inspires and drives you, we're in it together" - LinkedIn

The platform helps you connect with people in your field and paves your way towards endless opportunities in every walk of life.

"Whatever you're in it for, you want to know there is a community of people to help, support, inspire and push you," LinkedIn assures in its 'In It Together' campaign.

So, what are you in it for?