Panagiota joined Evoqua Water Technologies’ graduate scheme and now works in product management, looking after fixed analytical solutions and focusing on the requirements of the UK market, speaking to customers and suggesting changes to their products/services.
What’s your name?
Where do you work?
Evoqua Water Technologies.
What's your job title?
Product manager, Fixed Analytical Solutions.
How long have you been working in the industry?
I have been working in the industry since I left university almost three years ago.
How did you get to where you are today?
Working with Thames Water, Britain’s biggest water firm, for my master’s thesis on energy within wastewater treatment introduced me to the water industry in the UK. Consequently, taking a position as graduate electrical engineer at Evoqua Water Technologies (Siemens Water Technologies at that point) seemed the most suitable career choice.
What's the work and day-to-day experience like?
Some days are more hectic than others and there is always something new to learn. I am very lucky to work with extensively competent colleagues who are happy to share their experience and knowledge and this makes a great difference in day-to-day work.
My role is cross functional, so I have to work with the engineering team in order to support our existing engineering solutions, however, the most exciting part is the investigation for alternative solutions and the process of planning the products of the future, discussing various scenarios, different technological approaches and fresh solutions. Also, assisting customers with technical questions and product training have started occupying more and more of my work day.
I have done fieldwork and a big part of my previous projects has been spending hours in the lab wet testing and calibrating prototype analytical devices. There are times that travelling is required either to visit a factory or an off-site lab facility, meet a client or even have an internal meeting since my company is based in three different UK locations.
What's the best thing about the job?
The best thing is when you get that feeling of accomplishment when something that you have worked for is in place or you have come up with a working solution to resolve an issue.
And the worst?
The worst part of the job is when the available resources limit the scope or the depth of the work that can be done within the time restrictions.
What have been your career highlights so far?
I have been a member of a team assembled from the UK and US to undertake the Type Approval Testing for the first ever multi-million dollar Water Ballast Treatment System which took place on a new built container ship across UK, Germany and Belgium. I have been involved in several volunteering activities for Headway Mental Health Charity and Oakley School for kids with severe learning difficulties. I have also volunteered as an Ambassador for TeenTech exhibitions, aiming to promote engineering and science to teenagers.
Last summer I led a research project aiming to develop a novel application. This involved mentoring a talented team of interns from original concept design to prototype building and testing. I definitely consider their enthusiastic engagement and high standard presentation in front of the senior management as highlight of my career so far.
How would you describe life working in the industry?
Life in the industry is a mixture of problem solving, communication and influence activated by creative thinking. Imperfect and charming.
What did you expect when you started work? Did anything surprise you?
Coming out of university I expected to use the extensive knowledge that I obtained through my studies from day one. I quickly understood that the real purpose of university is to shape an all-around thinking process. The transition from theory to practice required more attention than I expected.
What surprised me - apart from the number of emails that a person can receive within a day - has been the significance of soft skills such as team work, willingness to get involved and flexibility and what great impact they have in professional development. I was impressed by the generosity and the loyalty that some people have demonstrated in my work life so far.
Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?
I would advise against comfort. I strongly believe in constant development and improvement. Also, a moto I use a lot these days is ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Involving more people in decision-making and problem solving has led to inspiring success stories.
What do you think you'll do next?
Since I am fascinated by human interaction I will probably continue with cross-functional roles. Business development is totally within my interest and I am always up for a new challenge.