"I make my decisions in life based on what I’ll remember when I’m old. You know, if my sister asks me to visit for a concert, and I’m on the fence because of cost, work, whatever – I stop and think, Am I going to remember that I had to spend money on a plane ticket, take time off work...No. I’m going to remember that awesome fucking concert with my sister."
– Isabelle Laurier
So you’re a chemical engineer? That’s pretty badass. What was your path?
I went to engineering school, but now I'm technically I’m more of a manager. I work with design engineers to implement our equipment in their designs as well as show up on constructions sites to start up the cooling water filter systems. I’m usually running around with boots and a hard hat on. My path? Well, I didn’t get into medical school. I cried, then pivoted and applied to engineering school. Now I love my job and the life that I’ve built around it.
Is it a male-dominated environment? What kind of challenges does that present?
Yes, I typically work with all men. Sure, I guess I’ve experienced sexism, but it does not affect me. I am blind to it. I’ve found that embracing my femininity actually plays to my advantage in most situations.
How do you "play your femininity to your advantage" as you say?
Generally speaking, I’ve found that when a guy doesn’t know something, he pretends that he does, and that’s the end of it. I think women are much better able to admit when they don’t know something, and ask a lot of questions. That’s how I learn things that make me better at my job. When you can put your ego aside and let yourself be vulnerable, you create space to learn. Also, our feminine qualities make us better at resolving conflict, which is invaluable in any industry.
What are you passionate about?
The environment, and living my life in a way that helps protect it. I’m so worried about what we are leaving the next generation in 20, 40 years. It’s part of the reason I decided not to have kids. Imagine if we all did just a little more….like not waste food. It’s not just about the landfills. It’s the carbon footprint, the bigger picture. My husband and I never waste food. I don’t overcook, or if i do, i freeze it. There are little things we can do every single day that make a huge positive impact.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
People think I’m tougher than I am because I have a strong exterior. But I’m actually extremely sensitive. I just channel it in a way that makes me seem tough, I guess. I’m also an avid gardener, knitter and cooker. Despite not having kids, I’m more motherly than you’d think!
When are you happiest?
When it’s December, and I’m roaming the streets of New York, and it’s buzzing. Everyone is shopping, going for cocktails – but on a Tuesday, when there are no tourists (or people from New Jersey) – and it feels like it’s just me and my fellow New Yorkers...I love that.
What drives your decisions in life?
I make my decisions in life based on what I’ll remember when I’m old. You know, if my sister asks me to visit for a concert, and I’m on the fence because of cost, work, whatever – I stop and think, “Am I going to remember that I had to spend money on a plane ticket, take time off work...No. I’m going to remember that awesome fucking concert with my sister.”
How do you describe your style?
Black, white, beige, with a little bit of punk rock and spiky hair. So basically, I’m David Bowie.
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Don’t stay with that guy who cheated on you. That’s my only regret in life. Everything else led to the awesome life I have now. I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t get into med school...well, I love my life now so I’m glad that happened. But staying with someone who cheats on you – don’t do it. I didn’t respect myself during that period of my life, and if you don’t have self respect, you don’t have anything.
It’s funny, I feel like I’m in retirement right now. I’m not, far from it, but I’m just filling every day with experiences that bring me joy...isn’t that what retirement is? (laughs)
What does “spirited woman” mean to you?
A spirited woman is someone who embraces her womanhood. It’s someone who rises above her environment, and no matter what difficult situation she’s put in, she pivots.
- ISABELLE LAURIER -