Amy Lezala Zahr

What is your favourite memory of Malvern College?

Sitting by the cricket long room after class had finished, playing music and spending time with our friends. The hands on experiments in Physics, especially the blowtorch for my extended essay project.

What attracted you to your particular career and what do you enjoy most about it?

I always enjoyed science and mathematics; my IB higher subjects were Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Being an engineer was always the goal. I enjoyed understanding how things worked and why they had been designed in a certain way. During my IB I studied Business as a lower subject. The course sparked an interest in management so the logical step was to read Engineering and Business Management at university. My career to date has been varied. I was a specialist engineer for a number of years, focussing on reliability and safety, and then more recently stepping into the engineering management space. There are many aspects I enjoy of both roles. As a specialist engineer, you are able to dive deep into the topic and fully understand the intricacies. As an engineering manager, you are required to understand the overall system and appreciate the interfaces, often balancing conflicting requirements between two areas. Both roles have required an understanding of risk, making informed decisions and being aware of potential consequences. This systems thinking is something I really enjoy.

What part did Malvern College play in giving you the necessary skills for your chosen path?

The academic development at Malvern really helped. My tutor, Bert Lacey, always showed us the fun that can be had from learning about the physical world. A teacher that has so much joy in teaching is compelling and he made learning enjoyable. Physics, particularly mechanics, became a favourite topic and that was a foundation for my university subjects.

Theory of Knowledge (ToK) as part of the IB curriculum built on our capacity to think critically, which has been a key skill in my career. Rev Andrew Law, the Chaplain and ToK teacher, would guide the class through both sides of an argument and challenge our thought processes. Over the two years, we became good at debating our arguments and challenging each other with dispassionate independence. As someone who has to make decisions based on risk, it has been key to the decision making process that I challenge with an independent viewpoint.

Aside from the academics, the international cohort at Malvern College and the pastoral care from the boarding houses made it a wonderful community to grow in. I only spent my sixth-form years at Malvern but they were extremely enjoyable, challenging and shaping.

What are your ambitions?

To continue to lead in the engineering field; not in as a technical specialist but with a more progressive style of management.

What advice would you give to current pupils contemplating working or studying in your field?

Do it! If you are a critical thinker and like to shape the built environment, try engineering as a profession. It is rewarding, it pays well and you can have a direct impact on the world. Starting with engineering as a foundation can take you on to other careers as the approach to problem solving that you learn in your engineering career will carry through into other roles.

What advice would you give to current pupils about making the most of their time at Malvern College?

Time at school is when you can explore your own mind and explore the wider world whilst under the guidance of your teachers and pastoral care teams. It is a wonderful time, particularly when at a setting such as Malvern College. Don’t sweat the small stuff, the time at school doesn’t last very long so you should try to make the most of it.