Your Interview Agata Tyburska


Agata Tyburska

How long have you been involved in the lighting industry in total?

I have been involved in lighting since 2015 when I joined a lighting design consultancy as an intern. I spent a year there and returned to university for my final year in BSc Product Design where I based my dissertation and final project on artificial lighting and its effects our circadian rhythm as well as wildlife. This led me to pursuing a career as an architectural lighting designer and joining an award winning lighting consultancy.

Have you always been involved in the manufacturing side or have you come from another part of the industry?

I joined the manufacturing side of the lighting design industry earlier this year in May after 7 years as a lighting designer. This made the transition quite simple since I already had knowledge of the industry, allowing me to assist designers through the process I’m familiar with.

Do you feel that there is a wider diversity in sales, manufacturing and marketing over the last 20 years?

Speaking for the last 8 years, I have noticed a change in diversity. When I started in lighting, I can’t recall working with a single female in sales. I’m sure there were a few just not within the manufacturing companies I personally worked with and specified. This started to change after I came out of university as I finished my final year and came back into working for a consultancy, where I started working with a couple of women in the sales side of the industry, though until this day I find that marketing is more female led while there are more men in the sales side. The scales aren’t equal which isn’t said as a negative comment, but an observation.

What reasons do you think there are so few women working for manufacturing companies? What obstacles do women come up against?

Before I made the change into sales, I have thought about it for a couple of years but I felt too intimidated joining a very male orientated side of the industry. I didn’t know much about the dynamics in the sales side and how I would be treated by clients being a woman in a sales role.

There have been many times where I haven’t been taken seriously in a meeting or site visit, specifically by the older generation of men. When a men leads or contributes to a meeting, it is assumed that he knows what he is talking about until he proves otherwise. Meanwhile as a woman, we very often tend to be underestimated, interrupted, talked over and need to prove our competence. This is one of major obstacles which many of my female colleagues experienced as it affects confidence and progression in a workplace. I was worried that this happens more often in the sales side of the industry which is what stopped me from switching careers from design into sales earlier, especially as my job relies on clients hearing me out and giving me an opportunity start a conversation.

How do you think more women can be encouraged into this side of the lighting industry? What can manufactures do to encourage a diversity of applicants for roles in sales and product development for example?

I think opening the doors to internships could be a good thing for the manufacturing side of the industry. Based on my personal experience where I studied Product Design, I haven’t thought about architectural or decorative lighting being such a large part of the industry and all the opportunities offered. I only learned of lighting design as a career when I came across an internship offered by the lighting design consultancy where my journey in lighting began, through which I started working with manufacturers.

Open days for students to come in and ask questions could be a powerful tool and encourage young professionals, including women. Gender diversity and hierarchy in a workplace isn’t something people experience until they come out of university into the working world. As a student, I never thought of not joining a specific industry because it is more male orientated or because I was worried about not being heard as a women. In fact, my course was mainly dominated by men with only a handful of female students where none of us felt uncomfortable or were treated differently because of gender. Unfortunately, this is something I came across and realised is an issue through experiences after university. If I had more awareness of the world of lighting manufacturers and the variety of roles, I would not have hesitated in joining this industry like I have hesitated in the past couple of years.

Manufacturers are already a lot more encouraging to women and broadening workplace diversity, the main goal now is to ensure young women feel comfortable joining that side of the industry without being exposed to such things as gender discrimination and authority gap.

What are the positives of working for a manufacturer? What are the negatives?

The main positive about working for a manufacturer is having opportunities to be out and about meeting clients. I’m a social person and as much as I enjoyed being a designer and creating lighting schemes, I felt quite drained staring at a screen all day and after hours. I love meeting new people so going to see new and existing clients lets my personality shine through and makes me feel invigorated.

Of course, working for a manufacturer is not just about going out to spend time with clients. It comes with its own challenges and pressures, however continuous support between colleagues and trust from the management side is what makes the difference and helps to resolve issues fairly quickly as well as allowing comfort in the workplace.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Being in sales and the manufacturing side of the industry, I still sometimes experience men being sceptical about my competence and knowledge but this is an issue in the industry as a whole, not specifically in the side of manufacturing. I experienced this in the design side through the past 7 years and it’s something I now expect when going into certain meetings, however I experience it less since I joined sales. I find that most clients expect me to have the knowledge and therefore trust my words, as well as ask for my thoughts and advice while colleagues make me feel like an equal part of the team.

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