Nicole Hughes is a Principal Software Engineer at LivaNova. She is responsible for the architecture, design and implementation of tools and driver software used in Vagus Nerve Stimulation systems. She’s been with the company since September 2021.
Q: What made you pursue engineering as a career choice?
A: I love to solve problems. My journey began in high school when I began taking computer programming classes. It was amazing to control the computer through a special language. I went on to double-major in Mathematics and Computer Science in college. My love of the medical device field came later, and I decided to study Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. I found my dream job in Neuromodulation Medical Services, which marries computer science with neuroscience.
Q: Is there a woman who mentored or inspired you throughout your career?
A: I consider my coworker named Shelley Stracener, my primary mentor. She introduced me to the Society of Women in Engineering, for which she was a chapter president. She is very supportive of women and believes in empowering them. She is a true inspiration, and the first person I've met who is an active advocate for women in engineering.
Q: What advice would you give to women engineers who are entering the workforce?
A: First, don't be intimidated by this career choice. It can be daunting as a typically male-dominated field, but we're changing that. Be part of the change. Join us at LivaNova today; we have a very good representation of both men and women in engineering.
Second, ask for what you want throughout your career. For example, if there's a certain salary you want or if there are special conditions in your life that you know you need, then ask. The worst that can happen is that they say “no.” You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Finally, if you end up in a situation where things aren't working out for you at work, speak up to voice your concerns. If things can’t be corrected, don't stay in that environment. Find a new job within the same company or look to join a new company. Some women tend to want to please people and will stay in a toxic environment too long. Find a new path if you find yourself in that situation.
Q: What inspires you to do this work?
Q: What would you say to encourage other women in medtech to come work for LivaNova?
A: LivaNova is the only company I've ever worked for where they really focus on the value of empathy – not only for our patients, but for the people that work here, too. They empathize with the employee’s work and home situations. They recognize and understand the need for a work-life balance. I have two children and an aging mother, so this is very important to me.
Additionally, LivaNova allows remote working and has truly embraced this work paradigm, more so than any other company I’ve seen. Our software team spans from California to New Jersey. We have people all over the United States. It's been great working remotely; to have flexibility with that kind of environment, but it is also amazing to work with the best engineers across the country.
Q: Can you share with us a little-known fact about yourself?
A: I love to sing and recently joined an adult choir. This is something I’ve always wanted to do. We already have some concerts booked. So, I've been enjoying that. It's been a challenge, but a fun one! I feel like I'm using more of the creative side of my brain now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Women In Medtech
Acess the rest of the series to hear from women excelling in medical technology careers at LivaNova