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How a complete beginner became a Systems Engineer

“Upon graduating in 2017 from NED University of Engineering & Technology in Pakistan with a Bachelor's Degree in Electronic Engineering, I had never thought that one day I would call myself a Systems Engineer.”

In this article, we talk to Fatima, a previous student of The School of Systems Engineering and understand how she overcame all of the challenges of becoming an Engineer in the U.K.

Read on to understand how you can follow in her footsteps.

How did it all begin?

I started my career in the United Arab Emirates as a design engineer at a systems integration company. I then moved on to one of the leading manufacturers in the smart automation industry. My major focus was to provide technical solutions to clients in the hospitality industry.

How did you learn about Systems Engineering?

During the third year of my professional career, I started facing a critical problem. I was struggling to accurately share information across many stakeholders. So, I started researching about how major organisations such as NASA, who deal with super complex problems, are tackling the problem. I asked myself “how is it that they manage information so accurately?”

During this process, I realised that there is a discipline which not only deals with information management but also generates something called the ‘single source of truth’. There also existed principles on how to better manage your processes! This provided me with not only the right solution, but also the most efficient one.

That was my eureka moment when I decided to explore more about Systems Engineering.

What were some of the first steps you took?

I first started with a simple online coursera course. I familiarised myself with the fundamentals of Systems Engineering. After that, I went on and explored more, where I learned about INCOSE and the SEP certifications. Call it a blessing, I then stumbled on a short course from The School of Systems Engineering (SOSE), where I learnt the essentials of the ASEP exam and how to pass for the first time.

The course that I took with SOSE, highlighted the main areas of the handbook and made it easier to focus on essential topics. By putting my blood, sweat and tears into a full week of studying 14 hours a day, I managed to pass the exam and became an Associate Practitioner of Systems Engineering (ASEP).

My journey did not end there!

How did this impact your Career?

Once an INCOSE ASEP Systems Engineer, I decided to move to a more mature market which deals with model based systems engineering with the goal of learning from industry experts. However, this was challenging. There are barriers to engineering which aren’t always evident. For example, if you aren’t a skilled SE already, landing interviews can be difficult. Applying for jobs around the world and being based in the UAE adds further complexity to the problem. Right to work, visa’s, moving home, leaving friends and family are just some of these complexities which you have to battle through. It was difficult!

Since then, I’ve landed a dream role at Capgemini in the U.K., as a Consultant in Systems Engineering. I’m now building my expertise as a Model Based Systems Engineer. Capgemini offered the right ‘work culture’ and the perfect start I needed to build my career into this new discipline 😊.

It was also during my initial few weeks that I discovered the terminology “digital twin”. A key component of Industry 4.0 revolution and is the next big thing. The concept of digital twin and digital thread involves making use of systems engineering and model based systems engineering in its true and purest form.

So now I have a dream role and learning the right skillsets. You can say that the phrase “hard work pays off” actually proved right in my case. Whilst I am continually learning, I also wanted to share this article as an inspiration piece to those interested in becoming a Systems Engineer and to convey a message of support that shouts ‘never be scared to explore and pursue your passion because it's never too late 😊’.

What’s your career ambitions?

The next part of my career ambitions include reaching a more senior level position within systems engineering and model based systems engineering. Ultimately I want to become a Chief Technical Officer and put into use all the experiences I have gathered to improve and better manage technical processes.

Thank you to Fatima for taking the time to share an incredible story of grit, determination and resolve.

Pivoting into Systems Engineering with a mountain to climb is truly admirable.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career like Fatima, you can learn about Systems Engineering for free here.

Get help in studying for the INCOSE ASEP Exam here and read our Ultimate Guide on ‘How to get Hired here’

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