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How the Magenta Mentoring Programme helped a talented aerospace engineering student to prepare for a career in rig design at Future Fibres

Natalia Citarella had the typical pathway into sailing. Growing up in Optimists, she built a passion for the sport but at some point she grew out of Optis and the pathway forward became somewhat unclear.

Focused on her aerospace engineering degree at Politecnico di Torino, Italy, Natalia enjoyed leading her school’s sailing team as an extracurricular activity. There, she came upon the perfect blend between her passion for sailing and engineering: the SuMoth Challenge.

Hosted annually by Foiling Week, the SuMoth Challenge is a student competition where the objective is to design, build and sail the most sustainable and efficient foiling International Moth. Using her aerospace design schooling, Natalia’s role in her university’s team was as a member of the fluid dynamics division. She reflected on the experience and said it was the key to translating her training into real-life practice, and used it much like a job experience.

After completing her Masters in aerospace engineering, Natalia joined the Magenta Mentoring Programme in search of a mentor to guide her through the next steps of her career. Her mentor, Elvira Llabres, who is a performance analyst with America’s Cup Team Ineos Britannia, helped Natalia in her job search and used her technical prowess to prepare her to interview with Future Fibres. Natalia’s interview process was ultimately successful and she is now working with Future Fibres as a design engineer.

Main picture: Sula, the Sustainable Moth, was made for the 2022 SuMoth Challenge by the Polito Sailing Team from Politecnico di Torino. Natalia’s university won first place on the water in 2022 and 2023

Natalia also now serves as STEM Pathway lead for The Magenta Project, helping to connect fellow women in the global network who are also building careers in STEM and shoreside roles. A STEM-focused online webinar is part of The Magenta Project curriculum and Natalia will co-host this year’s session and inspire the next group of mentees with her personal pathway. As a mentee, Natalia was able to attend the STEM webinar earlier this year and make valuable connections with her soon-to-be colleagues at Future Fibres and North Sails Technology Group, Claire Sears and Flavia Tomiselli.

‘The STEM webinar was just a few weeks before I started with Future Fibres, and I really felt relieved and inspired too. I think it is normal to question yourself when you start a new job but then I saw the people and knew I would be able to do it.’ said Natalia.

Future Fibres has a future-forward hiring strategy in which they not only invest in training rising talent but also consciously hire women in a traditionally male-dominated field. Across Future Fibres’ teams, on average 30 per cent are women, which is high considering the maritime industry average is 13 per cent for women in technical roles, and three per cent for both female seafarers and CEOs, according to Skipper maritime survey and data collected by the International Maritime Organization.

There is a critical gap in recruitment and training for women in technical roles in the maritime industry. The Magenta Mentoring Programme has expanded to include support for women in STEM career pathways in the industry, but companies must also take a lead in hiring and training more women in engineering and leadership roles. The Magenta Mentoring Programme welcomes interested industry leaders to join their mission to drive more inclusion across the board in sailing.

To learn more and inquire about applying the Magenta mentoring model to welcome more women in your teams, visit The Magenta Project »

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