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A global learning experience Punit Shah

I believe a varied skill set with a mastery in at least one or two disciplines, a positive approach, friendliness, humility, flexibility, eagerness to learn and resourcefulness are key points to success for a consulting engineer working in an international environment.

"Throughout my career I have managed to live and work in eight cities in the UK, two cities in Switzerland, Doha and Mumbai."

While university offers a sound technical foundation, it can’t fully simulate the complexities and ever so subtle intricacies of the world of work, such as project challenges, deadlines, dealing with clients, performing under pressure and working with diverse teams, especially in the current economic and business climate. Early in my career I undertook regular project secondments both locally and internationally.

It may sound slightly quixotic, but thanks to project opportunities presented to me combined with a great level of flexibility, a sociable nature and a willingness to explore new avenues, throughout my career I have managed to live and work in eight cities in the UK, two cities in Switzerland, Doha and Mumbai. I am now in Sydney having joined Mott MacDonald in July 2018.

Another benefit that I have gained from my career so far has been the opportunity to work in multiple business units on projects of various scales and sizes while contributing to a range of diverse disciplines such as highways and transport, road tunnels and building services. I am very lucky to have been able to experience a career path which is contrasting and varied to such a level.

I have been involved in doing concept to finish designs of electrical power and communication systems as well as producing sustainability strategies, low-zero carbon reports, electromagnetic compatibility strategies, managing rail systems safety, assurance, interface and integration. I have also contributed to some amazing projects such as London Olympics 2012, Sydney Metro, and various schools, hospitals, and residential buildings within the UK and internationally. These invaluable experiences and the knowledge gained out of the whole process have come to my aid at every instance.

I believe a varied skill set with a mastery in at least one or two disciplines, a positive approach, friendliness, humility, flexibility, eagerness to learn and resourcefulness are key points to success for a consulting engineer working in an international environment, especially in these times where businesses are constantly changing strategies among other things. There are times when one may struggle, but that is exactly when you need to push yourself and self-motivate to keep going as there will not always be somebody to fall back on.

Outside of work I am a practicing Indian classical instrumentalist (I play and perform the Indian lute called sitar and Indian drums known as tabla) and have travelled to almost all project-based destinations with my instruments! A daily practice routine of two hours after work helps to keep me sane and refreshed. The other advantage of work based travel has been that I have had opportunities to meet various musicians and perform with them while making lasting friendships.

For recent graduates and aspiring international work-based travellers, I would like to give the message that if opportunities arise, just go for it. The journey may present you with challenges, roller-coaster rides and ups and downs, but what it will teach and the joy you will get out of the whole process can be replaced by nothing else. Not only will you benefit from it personally, but you will also add tremendous value to the workplace. I hope to get the opportunities to be able to contribute to the best of my ability during the Mott MacDonald adventure that has just begun!

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