Our Stories: Lizzy Grant

Written by Renee Tonkin. Posted in Our Stories.

Lizzy GrantWorking on high-voltage batteries for supercars, Lizzy Grant isn’t your everyday Kiwi in the UK. Mechanical engineer, Lizzy, came over to the UK in 2021 to work for supercar company, McLaren Automotive.

Growing up in Auckland, Lizzy didn’t know any engineers, but she loved physics and maths. Her physics teacher introduced her to engineering and after attending the University of Auckland’s recruitment day for women in engineering, Lizzy decided that mechanical engineering was the pathway for her. However, she wasn’t quite ready to give up her love of physics and so she tacked on a conjoint physics degree too.

In terms of choosing a career path, Lizzy feels that her university experience on the Formula SAE team was transformative. Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) is a competition in which university students design, build, and race a prototype race car. Joining the Auckland University team in her first year, Lizzy progressed through several roles in the team, ultimately leading the team of 50 students in her third year.

With this experience under her belt and a growing interest in the automotive industry, Lizzy was awarded the Bruce McLaren Automotive Award – a scholarship in the memory of the New Zealand racing car driver, designer, and engineer, Bruce McLaren – which is supported and administered by the NZ-UK Link Foundation, the Bruce McLaren Trust, and other donors. The scholarship gave Lizzy the opportunity to undertake a 3-month internship at McLaren Automotive in the UK. “It was my first experience travelling overseas by myself, so that was a really great experience” says Lizzy of the internship experience.

Lizzy returned to McLaren Automotive after graduating. Joining as a graduate design engineer, she helped design prototype vehicles. These days, she’s a systems engineer for high-voltage batteries. Lizzy says the role “blends technical expertise and project management. You are responsible for the specification, design, testing and ensuring the final part is delivered as specified. It covers a wide variety of activities”.

McLaren Automotive is located in Woking, and so Lizzy has settled nearby in Farnham, Surrey. She loves the “cute artsy town”, with a similar population density to the outskirts of Auckland. “You have everything you need around you, but you’re also really close to the countryside.”

Looking towards the future, Lizzy says she is quite happy and settled in the UK but might also spend some time in Canada, Australia, or perhaps back in New Zealand. For now, she’s going to continue following the project management pathway, explaining, “I like to have a whole lot of plates spinning”.

Speaking of her experience as a woman in engineering, Lizzy encourages other young women to “have confidence in yourself. I know sometimes it can seem like other people know so much, but what I figured out is that it's not always the case”.

However, Lizzy says it’s not just about encouraging women to study engineering. “At a graduate level you may have a decent percentage of women. But it’s also about keeping women in engineering.” Lizzy would love to see more senior women in her industry.

You can connect with Lizzy on LinkedIn.