5 minute read
Senior Control Systems Engineer Mohamed (Mo) Sakr and Lead Control Systems Engineer Yasser Elshohna first met at college in Egypt. A decade and a half later, following diverse career paths which took them across the petrochemicals, oil and gas, mining and construction, water treatment and thermal power industries across two countries, they are colleagues again at Mipac.
We sat down with both of them to discover how they ended up here, ask them about Mipac’s company culture and get their thoughts on the future of control systems engineering as a profession.
Mipac: So, take us back to the very beginning. What did you both want to be want to be when you grew up?
Yasser: I always wanted to be an engineer, actually. My dad is a chemical engineer and I admired what he was doing – he was my role model. Even though his work was stressful and he had a lot of responsibility, I saw this as meaning it would be enjoyable and challenging work.
Mo: My story is similar, as my father was an electrical technician. I was also fascinated by computers and programming, so as a hobby I would get books from the library and go through programming tutorials. I didn’t envision myself becoming an electrical engineer – more like a programmer or computer science engineer – but due to a series of events, I studied communication engineering instead and eventually found my way into control systems engineering. Now I get to do programming after all!
Mipac: And you two knew each other before you both joined Mipac?
Mo: Yes, we knew each other as acquaintances at college, though not well. Years later, when Yasser was preparing to migrate to Australia, he knew I was in this process too so he asked me about the application process and we reconnected. When I booked my flight ticket, I told him the date I was travelling, and he somehow managed to get the seat right next to mine on the plane.
Mipac: What! What are the chances?
Mo: I know! So we arrived together, but Yasser moved to New South Wales and I stayed in Brisbane. I started working at Mipac, and though I tried to convince him to bring his family back to the warmth of Queensland, Yasser said he liked Sydney better.
Mipac: But somehow you did end up back here, Yasser…
Yasser: Yes, I got an internal transfer to Queensland with my previous company and then joined Mipac about six months later.
Mipac: You both moved to Australia from Egypt. Tell me more about this decision.
Mo: Moving to another country is not easy. For me, the decision to move was always about my children more than myself – to give them a better quality of life and a good education. They are building their life here now, and I feel like I’ve made the right choice for them. But there are definitely challenges, like losing childhood friends and being far away from family.
Yasser: My reasons were the same as Mo’s – I was looking for a better life, a better future for my family and kids. Of course, it’s different lifestyle and culture here, but as Australia is built on multiculturalism, everyone is very accepting of each other.
Mo: Something I really like about Australia is that no matter your background, you have equal opportunities here. If you have a dream and you do your best, using the tools that you have on hand to pursue that dream, I believe you’re more likely to succeed in Australia than in other countries.
Mipac: That’s interesting. So what attracted you to Mipac as a company?
Mo: I’ve been with Mipac for about two years, and I can honestly say that no other company has offered work that is so challenging and rewarding at the same time, nor had the same diversity in systems and technical aspects. This makes the work engaging, diverse and incredibly rewarding.
Yasser: I’ve worked in both large and small companies, and one of the things I like about Mipac is that it’s not huge, but not tiny either. You get the best of both worlds. Management is very approachable and everyone is always happy to help.
Another great thing is the level of expertise that exists within the company. We have people who are experts in all of the different control systems on the market – from Siemens to Allen-Bradley and Schneider to Yokogawa. This comes from the diversity of the projects that we work on. Whatever your experience, Mipac will find a suitable project for you and it will also give you exposure to those areas you are not familiar with. I honestly haven’t found this diversity of experience before in one single company.
Mipac: Is there anything else you would say about the Mipac culture?
Mo: I think it’s worth mentioning the family aspect of the company. It always feels like it’s not a workplace for me. This is so valuable as we spend a lot of time at work!
Yasser: I agree. The culture is very welcoming and there are regular events like [Mipac’s monthly] staff drinks and other activities that encourage people to mingle and get to know each other. No matter what department they’re in, people are happy and open to talk.
Mipac: Looking ahead, what are your thoughts about the future of control systems engineering as a profession?
Mo: I think it’s really changing. We’re on the verge of a massive new era, similar to when the internet was first invented. AI is now a reality and it’s changing things, which means that the skill set for being a control systems engineer might be totally different in the future. Cybersecurity is also an increasing threat to industry, which can cause severe damage to production. And finally, the [Industrial] Internet of Things (IIoT) means we now have more intelligent small devices. New graduates will need skills and knowledge in networking and cybersecurity if they are to succeed.
Mipac: Thank you for chatting to us!
Both: It’s a pleasure.