There and back again – the tale of the engineer who returned to the fold.
From The IET
Rehan Farooq is a graduate electrical engineer at Mouchel, a consulting and business services group. Working in a partnership environment with Costain, he provides electrical design services.
Although only 32, Farooq's career has been highly varied. He’s found a career for life with Mouchel, but only after experiencing work in academia and a stint away from engineering, in sales.
During his A levels and GCSEs, Farooq knew he wanted to do a degree in electronic engineering. Sadly he didn’t get the grades he needed to do a degree directly, so he chose to leave his hometown in Middlesbrough and relocate to London and work towards a HND at London South Bank University, with a top up year to receive his BSc. By then he truly had the learning bug, and chose to go back up north to continue in academia, working on his PhD at the University of Leeds. But he found it wasn’t what he expected.
“I found the lab work rather monotonous; an academic life can be quite institutionalised and I really wanted to do something different that would lead to a more satisfying career,” he says. “Throughout my studies I’d been working as a salesman in an electrical store, and I’d always been intrigued by commercial sales, so I simply went into that for a bit.
“I took a role as an account manager at telecoms company Dialogue Communications based in Sheffield, and it was a brilliant move for me. It gave me a big boost in confidence; going out to face clients who were blue chip companies, local authorities, emergency services etc and presenting smarter services, pitching contracts to them and signing them up. I’ve been through the whole procedure and it’s given me skills I implement in my role today.”
After a good stint in sales, Farooq got itchy feet. He’d invested a lot of time into engineering and didn’t want to lose the skill set he’d learnt. He joined Mouchel’s graduate scheme in November 2007 and feels he’s found a "career for life" with the company.
As a member of the graduate scheme, Farooq has got to experience many different facets of the company, and has been given many opportunities. He was originally taken on as a graduate electrical designer, working on a contract for Yorkshire Water. The team’s job was to maintain the waste water treatment works and pump stations across the county.
Typically, his day would involve managing five or so projects, all at different stages. Work could entail creating design specs for control panels, managing subcontractors, testing and inspecting: the list goes on.
“It’s always varied. I prefer working like this, rather than on one big project, as you get involved in many different areas,” Farooq explains.
“My current role has developed from there,” he says. “ I got to work alongside a variety of engineers: mechanical, geotechnical, process…It was a very steep learning curve when I joined, as I learnt a lot about different engineering disciplines. I’ve recently started to take on the lead role of electrical designer on certain projects - my development is very progressive.”
Just recently Farooq has been offered a secondment to the Republic of Ireland; a six month placement as a site-based resident engineer. “My line manager, Andrew O’Sullivan, recommended me for this opportunity,” he explains.
“I’ll be working with Donegal County Council. The role involves monitoring the installation and commissioning of flow instrumentation and associated low and high power radio telemetry systems of over 200 sites across the County of Donegal. Rather than being in the office doing the design work, I’ll now get to see the installation side. It's great for my CV, great experience. Hopefully it’ll lead me onto the road to bigger future projects. This kind of commitment is looked upon favourably.”
Farooq has regularly used IET services to support his career development. His line manager, a fellow member, helped him find a mentor who in turn has helped him to develop further. Introducing him to Career Manager has helped Farooq to build a portfolio he uses to record his route to Chartership and he’s already showing other colleagues how the IET can help them.
A new graduate in the office needed support and so Farooq pointed him towards the IET and again, Career Manager. He now helps colleagues in the office learn how to use the online project recording system to their advantage.
He also takes colleagues along to some of the IET’s evening seminars.
“It’s important to attend these. Not all will be related to exactly what I do, but they’re often about how engineers dealt with a project problem, issues and solutions. You see the end result and it’s all relevant,” he says.
For those whose route into engineering may not seem simple or straight forward, Farooq leaves you with this advice:
“My key message would be if you’re determined and ambitious, you’ll never stop pursuing your dreams,” he says. “That’s what I’ve done. I’ve been very persistent, I’ve done other jobs, but I’ve kept on going and it has paid off.”