Role: Technician

My role at SYSTRA

As a Technician, my role is to provide technical assistance to project teams across the Consultancy department by undergoing technical and specialist tasks to fit the objectives set by the project manager and senior colleagues. I also produce designs throughout the feasibility, design and construction phases.

My other duties include assisting with site visits and surveys where necessary, recording and presenting proposals clearly, and demonstrating proficiency in the application of a range of techniques, methods and tools. I am also tasked with completing designs to time and budget whilst maintaining SYSTRA’s high quality standards and helping to deliver work packages within projects.

The type of projects I work on range from highways proposals to private developments. Designs can include preliminary and detailed designs to support clients such as National Highways, local authorities and private developers.

Why I chose a degree apprenticeship

My engineering journey commenced at Bradford College, where I pursued a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Civil Engineering. Despite exhibiting what I would say was an immature attitude at the time (rooted in my limited experience), I completed the course and progressed to a Foundation Engineering degree at The University of Bradford.

During my foundation year, I realised the conventional classroom setting with over 100 students was not conducive to my learning style. Lengthy breaks between lectures and a lack of in-depth exploration into engineering left me feeling unfulfilled. Halfway through the foundation degree, it became apparent that I needed a greater level of practical application to help ensure my learning would be based in real-world, current practices within the industry. Upon receiving a student finance letter, I confronted the significant debt incurred from my first year of studies. It was a daunting experience for someone of my age.

Motivated to explore alternative paths, I researched degree apprenticeships and discovered the opportunity to be paid whilst studying on a government scheme. This option not only alleviated the financial burden, but it also allowed me to gain practical experience alongside seasoned engineers. Recognising the limited industry experience amongst most lecturers focused solely on theory, I sought advice from my eldest brother who holds a MEng in Civil Engineering. He emphasised that becoming a well-rounded engineer required practical skills beyond theory, including effective communication, health and safety considerations, stakeholder management and professional commitment.

Inspired by his insight, I revamped my CV and began applying for opportunities aligned with my goal of holistic development, understanding that real-world engineering demands a comprehensive skillset beyond theoretical knowledge.

We asked Mohamed…
How have your technical skills developed throughout your apprenticeship?

During my degree apprenticeship, my technical proficiency has grown substantially. I have acquired expertise in the utilisation of software tools such as AutoCAD, Civils 3D, Micro Drainage, GIS and Microsoft Office. Additionally, I have gained the status of Engineering Technician (Eng Tech) with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) and familiarised myself with diverse standards and procedures essential for the designs I produce. This includes a range of documents such as the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, Traffic Signs Manual, LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure and local design guides.

How have you grown personally through doing an apprenticeship?

My personality has evolved from that of an immature teenager seeking enjoyment, to that of an ambitious young man who refuses to let challenges hinder the pursuit of his goals. The apprenticeship experience has instilled in me a drive to reach and surpass set targets and objectives. Moreover, it has imparted the valuable lesson that every problem possesses a solution. One simply needs to blend consistency with determination and teamwork to overcome obstacles. Along this journey, I’ve cultivated what I consider to be lifelong friendships with colleagues who have played a pivotal role in guiding me through my professional development.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s unsure if an apprenticeship is right for them?

In my opinion, if you’re seeking an early advantage in life, this pathway is ideal for you. It not only provides an opportunity for financial independence, eliminating the stress of balancing studies with a part-time job, but more importantly it offers a chance to acquire transformative knowledge and experience. An apprenticeship is tailored for those looking to gain life changing insights.

How does SYSTRA stand out from the rest as a Great Place to Work?

SYSTRA stands out as an exceptional workplace with a welcoming atmosphere. Colleagues form a cohesive and supportive community, where individuals are valued as integral members rather than mere numbers on a corporate ladder. Everyone is treated as equals, and our voices and opinions consistently reach senior decision makers within the group. The year-round social events further contribute to fostering strong connections amongst colleagues.

What’s your favourite thing about your job right now?

What I appreciate most about my job is the diversity of tasks I handle, avoiding being confined to a narrow role. My manager supports my professional growth excellently by expanding my tasks beyond a technician’s typical responsibilities, assigning me a variety of engineering tasks. This approach enables me to enhance my knowledge and engage in more than just computer-based design work.

Diversity is powerful. What unique perspective do you offer as an apprentice?

I express my individual perspectives. As a Muslim, valuing and respecting the beliefs of others is crucial. This approach fosters effective collaboration and facilitates the formation of meaningful connections. In a diverse workplace, recognising that not everyone shares the same views is essential, and learning to respect these differences is fundamental to fruitful and harmonious interactions, which aligns perfectly with my Islamic beliefs.

What would an entirely green future look like? How should our industry contribute?

Enabling a sustainable future involves crafting designs that contribute to the United Nations’ environmental objectives and the mitigation of global warming. This means creating sustainable designs focused on minimising carbon emissions.

You can spend your lunchbreak with anyone you admire – who would you choose?

I’d choose to spend my lunch break with Nick Salt, as I believe there’s so much to learn from someone of his calibre. As the CEO of SYSTRA Ltd, he has undoubtedly navigated numerous challenges and milestones, some which may lie ahead for me. I often recall a saying that resonates with me – “a wise man learns from his experience, but a wiser man learns from other people’s past experiences”.

What is your next big career goal?

My next significant career objective is to attain the status of Incorporated Engineer (IEng) with the Institute of Engineers. This accomplishment will mark a pivotal stride towards achieving my lifelong ambition of Chartership (CEng).

What excites you about your career future?

The prospect of working overseas is the primary source of excitement for me. Having never ventured far from home during my upbringing, the idea of working in a different environment and immersing myself in diverse cultures is particularly thrilling. SYSTRA, being a globally diverse company, provides the opportunity for international assignments. Additionally, the introduction of a new mobility program for graduates further enables the chance to move within the Group, fostering relationships and gaining valuable experience with our international partners.

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