Irene Makris

Irene Makris






Vice-President, Marketing & Sales, Pratt & Whitney Canada & B.Eng. 1993, Mechanical Engineering



What inspired you to pursue a degree in the Faculty of Engineering?

I have to admit, I did not grow up knowing that I wanted to pursue a degree in Engineering. I did go through high school and Cegep in advanced math and science classes but always had a very artistic side that made my decision to take the engineering path even more complicated.  My brother was an engineering student at the time and working on his PhD.  Through him, I had the opportunity to witness all that McGill and Engineering had to offer. I had seen first-hand the exciting projects McGill empowered its students with—from developing new technology in powering cars, to releasing objects in flight leveraging learnings in Fluid Mechanics, to developing and building an innovative, compact and collapsible bike.  On top of all the intriguing innovations, McGill offered an exciting campus and student life that was unmatched. Finally, after some research, I quickly realized that engineering would give me the ability to work in most industries and corporations in a variety of roles and disciplines and the ability to reach any level I would aspire to.  It ultimately became an easy decision.

Why is it important for women to be involved in Engineering?

It is extremely important for women to be involved in engineering.  We need to demystify the myth that engineering is for men.  As much as it was dominated in the past by men and perhaps is still, we need to change this.  We need to change it not for statistical purposes, but for the diversity of thought that our society would benefit from.  Women bring more diversity into engineering through the way they think, the way they solve problems, the way they lead and manage people, and the way they interact with others. They can be positive agents for change, creating stronger teams and leveraging the capabilities, skills, and thought processes of all members.

Why did you choose McGill?

McGill is a renowned and prestigious university recognized across the globe and in Montreal.  I was very much attracted by the student life and activities, the beautiful downtown campus, and its reputation that I knew would follow me as I ventured into the corporate world after university. As I look back, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to obtain my engineering degree at McGill but also very thankful for all the other skills and opportunities it helped me develop through student life activities. Having been President of Mechanical Engineering and VP Internal for the Engineering Undergraduate Society, a member of both the Broomball and Flagball teams, and Manager of the ice cream store, to name a few,  I was able to develop my leadership skills, business acumen, strategic thinking, team work and flexibility.  This gave me the power to be nimble, allowing me to quickly adapt, grow and evolve in my roles in industry. So take advantage of all that McGill has to offer.

Do you have anything else to add?

I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to attend McGill and to be part of a most impressive legacy and society of alumni.  I would tell anyone who has that same opportunity to be sure to take it.  Take in all that McGill has to offer, including the extra-curricular activities and the different student organizations.  It helps balance the curriculum and workload, and also develops great skills that will be invaluable as you progress in your career.  Engineering is a great discipline, one that helps develop the world around us. It is exponentially rewarding to be a change agent, to make a recognizable difference in the way we do things, and to enable people to do things they never imagined possible. I am living that dream at Pratt & Whitney Canada today, helping shape the future of aviation with innovative engines and services that move the world. McGill has laid the foundation that helps me move the world – and for that, I am indebted.

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