Life as a Road Warrior

Fahad Shabbir, whose favorite platform is Rockwell Automation because of its didactic and ergonomic setting, shares his thought about working for Avanceon and life as a Road Warrior. The 27-year-old graduate from NUST in electrical engineering is also an enthusiast of everything new when it comes to automation and control platform. The recently married engineer and recipient of the Avanceon 2014 Awards likes to venture his brain in unexplored electrical fields.

On Working with Avanceon
AT When did you start working at Avanceon?
FS It was in June 2012 when I started working at Avanceon. I joined as an application engineer working on wise spectrum of industries and client in Pakistan before I was sent to the Middle East.
AT Where was your first job?
FS After graduating, there was a boom in the telecom sector and it was paying well as compared to the salaries offered in other industries in Pakistan. So initially, I wanted to join the telecom sector but the industry was slow and during that time I got an opportunity to work at Siemens, which was first step into the world of automation and niche engineering. I started my career working with Siemens Pakistan where I worked for 1 year 10 months, and moved to Avanceon.
AT Why did you decide to make the move?
FS I saw broader experience and personal growth working with Avanceon. Siemens has branches in different regions across Pakistan and your scope as an engineer is limited to your region. However, working with Avanceon also means that you will have the opportunity to work on projects Pakistan-wide but also in the Middle East. Amongst engineers, Avanceon is known to offer a challenging yet a broader scope of work, thus a more enriching experience. My reality confirmed the preceding reputation. It’s great.
AT What department did you join?
FS I joined the international execution department where I got involved with project development for projects such as the QDVC project, Lusail, in the Middle East from Lahore. I then became part of FATS and commissioning. A year later, I’ve been selected as a road warrior in the Middle East, and I’ve been enjoying doing this ever since.
AT What have you learnt at Avanceon?
FS A lot! Everything on the technical side of my expertise, I have learnt it all at Avanceon.I have learnt three different platforms. Also, the business schedule environment is great at Avanceon which adds great value to your learning experience
On Life as a Road Warrior
AT How is life as a road warrior?
FS Well, to be honest, it can be tough at times but overall very exciting! On the bright side, you get a chance to visit different countries and explore the local culture. It’s an eye opener which teaches you to remain agile at all times and forces you into maturing professionally and personally faster. The drawback for me is that I miss everything back home. I think it’s the same with everybody who works abroad, not just road warriors; sometimes you wish you were just with your family. It’s a choice, a good choice but you have to be motivated.

This said, I love what I do. Overall being a road warrior is just great. You get a chance to work in various different fields, interact with clients from different backgrounds, segments and cultures, right where they operate. This definitely broadens your experience and develop a skill set. My workload is 20% off-site and 80% on-site as in on clients site. It may not mean much so let’s say I cumulate every year 25 trips across the Middle East and South Asia.

AT Your favorite industry?
FS I have worked on different projects in Oil & Gas, Water, District Cooling, Infrastructure, Foods & Beverages, Power industries. It does not matter, but I prefer working on district cooling projects because they are based in cities, working on Oil & Gas projects requires to live in remote areas for quite sometimes, and the life after work can be a tad lonely there, especially in Saudi. This said, I can work anywhere as long as I get Pakistani food! ?
AT What technology would you have liked to work on?
FS Oh, I have work on multiple platforms. I’ve worked on Siemens and at Avanceon, I’ve worked on Rockwell, Schneider, and recently experienced working on GE. So altogether, I’ve been lucky to work on 4 different platforms. I haven’t worked on the DCS projects. I would want to work as a team lead and be able to manage resources for the complete cycle of the project.
AT What is exciting as a road warrior?
FS For me, I enjoy traveling even though it gets hectic, it gives me the opportunity to explore a new country/place and above all gives me an experience to work on a new industry/project which is very exciting. As a road warrior you learn to be independent; like in remote locations, there are times when you are away from home and there’s no food available, so you even learn how to cook!
AT Where do you prefer travelling?
FS It depends. Every time I’m back in Dubai, I’m happy, because there are other Avanceoners around you. It’s great to mingle and catchup. Especially because of the ongoing Empower project in Dubai, there are always people around. Dubai… there’s a lot to do and see. I also have my fellow Avanceoners with whom I can share, meet, hangout and play cards with. Being in Dubai is fun!

Doha is a place in between Dubai and other cities in Saudi. My personal preference goes to Dubai, then Qatar and then Saudi, in this order. In Qatar however, I’ve been working on Avanceon’s largest project, Qatari Diar’s own take on a future of urbanization: Lusail City so project-wise so it still makes it a great experience.

In Saudi, bring a lot of stuff to watch on your laptop as there’s not much to do – even the TV there is not as entertaining! {Laugh} It is heavily worked and only work focused, so when you get back home, it can be a little empty. Scope of work in Saudi is heavy-industry led, I have worked in three main different sectors in Saudi, Oil & Gas of course but also Metal & Mining as well as the Power sector. I have also worked for the public sectors as well.

On his Recommendation as a Well-Travelled Foodie
AT Your favorite restaurants in cities that you have visited?
FS As I said, I am happy where there is good Pakistani food. In the Middle East, Dubai is awesome for this. There’s a restaurant near the Mall of the Emirates, which is nearby our accommodation, it’s called the Handi, but in my opinion Ravi tops the list. Best Pakistani food in Doha is Mr. Broast. They have good food. I particularly enjoy the Siri Paya. There is place called Lahori Khabbay in Riyadh, one of the highlights of my stay there. As you can guess, the name says it all.
AT What’s your favorite food that you want your mom to cook when you go back home?
FS Mutton Handi or Beef Shami Kababs. Food is a must try and there are a lot of historical places to visit in that beautiful city, so I would say if one is visiting Lahore must experience these things. Back to food again, Bundo Khan is my all-time favorite.

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