A World of Opportunity Awaits

Immediately following my installation, I shared a hug with my younger son.

In the GE Gas Power Greenville Advanced Manufacturing Works building hangs a poster of Thomas Edison displaying the quote, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” While perhaps a bit dated (I haven’t worn overalls since the 1990s!), seeing this quote on my last visit led me to reflect on my time as president and my theme, “a world of opportunity awaits.” In keeping with Edison’s quote, I can attest that the “work” involved is twofold. First, it takes work — effort — to find opportunities, followed by even more work to take advantage of those opportunities. I am grateful that SWE has both helped me find opportunities over my career and supported me as I gained the confidence to tackle them.

Members of SWE’s FY23 board of directors engaged with “bakineers” from the Netflix show “Baking Impossible” at the WE22 closing reception.

During my installation, I shared a few additional thoughts on why I chose “a world of opportunity awaits” as my theme. One of the most meaningful parts of my installation, however, was having my children there to experience it all firsthand. While they have always known how important SWE is to me, I’ve rarely taken them to SWE events. The installation was an opportunity for them to hear just how crucial it is to support women and champion diversity. I told them I hoped they would always push for and grow in their understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Conference is always a highlight of the SWE year for many members. During preparation for WE22, we were cautiously optimistic about attendance. As it turned out, we were delighted to welcome more than 14,000 attendees to Houston to make in-person connections, learn, and find new opportunities. I hope everyone who attended WE22 left as energized and fulfilled as I did! I could not have asked for a more impactful conference.

All three keynotes were truly inspirational — and if you missed any of them, they are available on the SWE YouTube channel — but we couldn’t end conference without a party! SWE members who know me well also know that I am an amateur baker. My entire family has enjoyed the Netflix reality TV show “Baking Impossible,” which merged my professional life with one of my hobbies. After hosting a podcast with Sara Schonour, the engineering partner of the winning team, I fell in love with the idea of somehow doing something — anything — tied to the show at our WE22 conference.

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at a wine auction for SWE scholarships during a GE Women’s Network event.

Despite the logistical challenges of incorporating the team into a WE22 event, in August I received the news that four of the show’s “bakineers” would appear at the conference’s closing reception. I’ve already mentioned the energy at WE22 was incredible, but if you didn’t attend the closing reception, you missed so much enthusiasm and excitement from this group of fantastic people, who, thankfully for me, lived up to the challenge of making and baking the impossible!

Over the course of the winter and spring, all our WE Local events, including our global conferences, returned to in person, and SWE members made it clear: You were excited to be there! I had the wonderful opportunity to attend all five WE Local conferences and witness members packing the available space. Spring saw the in-person return of SWE’s congressional visits, an event I last attended in person in 2020, during which the global COVID pandemic was declared, and days before nearly everything around us shut down.

Marking the start of WE Local Bengaluru, SWE Executive Director Karen Horting, CAE, second from left, and I attended a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony.

Throughout the year I was tremendously thankful for GE’s support of my role as SWE president. This afforded me the opportunity to often “share trips” by combining my work travel to various GE facilities with my role as SWE president. Speaking to the GE Women’s Network, getting a quick tour, or, in one lucky instance, attending a Women’s Network-sponsored wine auction to benefit SWE scholarships were such gratifying experiences.

Earlier this year, SWE released a video sharing that GE was one of the first two SWE corporate sponsors, signing up in 1961 with a whopping $250. I am proud to say that the relationship has continued all these years since. I am especially proud of that history and truly grateful for the support I’ve received from GE this past year.

To help learn one another’s work styles and foster a stronger team experience, the FY23 board of directors successfully completed an “escape room” early in the year.

I also am honored and humbled to have worked with the FY23 board of directors. Each director brings something different to the table, making us a stronger organization. Despite our differences, we are united in our purpose: SWE’s mission. We have accomplished so much this year, and it is a direct result of the work taken on by each board member and their teams. I am also grateful for every SWE leader and member in our organization. It is because of their dedication that the Society continues to grow and flourish — and even break records in membership, conference attendance, and more!

I want to thank the entire SWE headquarters staff, who work hard to support our mission. We are fortunate to have Karen Horting, CAE, as our well-respected executive director. Her dedication to our organization and leadership of the team is commendable. The entire HQ staff accomplishes so much to move our organization forward.

Finally, thank you to my husband, Chris, and my sons. Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for holding it all together this year, particularly during those back-to-back-to-back trips. Although I missed family events and at times came home exhausted, they kept everything moving forward. I know they will continue to grow in their understanding and belief in the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Being a role model for my sons and having the opportunity to teach them to be allies is truly gratifying. I hope that as they grow up, they will be able to reflect positively on my SWE work and take pride in knowing that their mother served as president of an organization that contributed to positive change in the world.

And to all of our members, please always remember, a world of opportunity does await. If you see the world as being full of opportunities, more opportunities will find you!

Dayna Johnson, P.E.
SWE FY23 President
(she, her)