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From left to right: Taleen Kutob (Year 2 IndE) with sisters Dareen Kutob (IndE 1T7 + PEY, MIE MEng 2T2) and Layan Kutob (IndE 1T2 + PEY, MIE MEng 1T4). (Photo courtesy: Layan Kutob)

Growing up in a family with strong ties to engineering, Taleen Kutob (Year 2 IndE) had no shortage of examples to inspire her interest in the problem-solving discipline. 

“My father is a mechanical engineer and my mother, who is an architect, has a master’s degree in industrial engineering,” she says.  

“Seeing my three older siblings study industrial engineering at the University of Toronto made me feel like I was a part of their campus community from a young age.”  

There are 14 years between Taleen and her oldest sister, Layan Kutob (IndE 1T2 + PEY, MIE MEng 1T4), who is an associate partner at McKinsey & Company in San Francisco. Despite their age difference, the two sisters are close and even co-moderated a virtual International Women’s Day panel on March 6, with support from the U of T student chapter of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and the Engineering Alumni Office.  

“I am fortunate that I can always turn to my sisters and brother for advice or help when it comes to my studies or career goals,” says Taleen.  

“But many of my classmates may not have such resources so close to home. This inspired our event, Ask Me Anything: Your Success, Your Way, which was an opportunity to learn about the experiences of accomplished women who graduated from U of T Engineering.  

“Hearing these stories is especially important for women in engineering spaces where they may not feel welcome. We want them to feel less alone in their journey.”   

The event also aimed to provide inspiration for students who may be struggling, adds Layan.  

“Everyone at U of T Engineering arrives as a star student, but we all stumble along the way to our degree and may even lose motivation,” she says. “We wanted to break down the boundaries and give women engineering students an opportunity to see what their careers can look like. We wanted to showcase how individuals have overcome their own setbacks and that success isn’t always linear.”  

Layan, along with brother Kazem Kutob (IndE 1T3 + PEY) and sister Dareen Kutob (IndE 1T7 + PEY, MIE MEng 2T2) have shared their experiences with their youngest sister — not to influence her choices but to provide support and guidance.  

A young Taleen is seen in front of a desktop computer in an engineering computer lab at U of T.
Taleen as a child in a computer lab in the Gailbraith Building at U of T Engineering. (Photo courtesy: Layan Kutob)

Taleen considers her siblings to be her role models. When she was five years old, she even accompanied Layan to one of her undergraduate classes.  

“Layan was babysitting me at the time and ended up having to bring me with her,” she says. “I remember having drawing books and colouring pencils, and drawing the normal distribution curve because it was right there in front of me.”  

The first of the Kutob siblings to study engineering at university, Layan was initially on the fence between engineering and business when she began applying to schools.

“Ultimately, I choose to enroll in the TrackOne program at U of T Engineering in my first year, and I chose industrial engineering because I wanted to combine engineering with my business interests,” Layan says.

“There was never any family pressure for any of us to pursue engineering. But my siblings and I all enrolled in TrackOne in our first year because we wanted to make informed decisions about our future in engineering.” 

Still, at the end of their first year of undergrad, each of the Kutob siblings landed in industrial engineering, an area often focused on optimizing complex processes and improving the way people interact with systems. Kazem is now a self-service and online sales growth director at GitLab in Los Angeles, while Dareen is a strategy consultant at Accenture in Dubai.  

I hadn’t planned on pursuing engineering when I was in high school, my ambition was in pharmacy. However, in Grade 12, I began to see the limitations of a pharmacy degree,” says Dareen.  

“Seeing both Layan and Kazem pursue industrial engineering, I saw the potential for broader learnings and longer-term career options. I also realized that even with this shift, there could still be opportunities to explore my interests in the health and the pharmaceutical industry.  

“I ended up doing my thesis and capstone project in the health care field, and I now working in consulting with health and public sector clients.”  

From left to right: Dareen Kutob wears a purple hard hat, Layan Kutob wears a purple hard hat, Taleen Kutob wears a yellow hard hat and Kazem Kutob wears a green hard hat. The four siblings pose together in an outdoor setting.
From left to right: Dareen, Layan, Taleen and Kazem Kutob in Toronto in 2022. (Photo courtesy: Layan Kutob)

For Layan, consulting was a logical career choice that fit her personality and interests.  

Through McKinsey’s “random walks,” where employees engage in work across different industries, Layan was able to explore health care, insurance and banking, before finding her path in the energy sector — where the work and the people continue to inspire her.  

“I love rolling up my sleeves and working with people to solve complex issues in end-to-end processes and to think about innovative and creative ways to solve them,” says Layan. “I work with my energy clients on operational and digital transformations to reduce costs while increasing productivity, reliability and safety.  

I’m a firm believer that you need to enjoy what you do. So go find it, go seek it, and that could be through the process of elimination.”  

Pursuing industrial engineering offers you a great degree and an incredible toolkit that will set you up for success in any path you choose to pursue,” adds Dareen.   

“My advice for girls considering this area of study is to embrace and enjoy all aspects of university life, including extracurricular activities. You will meet great people, create new friendships and develop essential skills that will help you navigate any professional environment.”  

While Taleen doesn’t know where she will end up when she graduates in a few years, she knows an industrial engineering degree will open many doors.  

“The courses I am taking today are tapping into so many exciting areas that I can pursue a career in data science, artificial intelligence and human factors,” she says.   

“But being able to do this great work in a community that inspires me makes it 100 times better.” 

Media Contact

Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist