Sagar Venugopal case study
Technical Engineer at Saint Gobain
Please describe your current role and the journey you took to get there
I work as a Technical Engineer at Saint Gobain performance plastics in Bristol, UK. It took me a while to find the right job which suits my profile. It was a rollercoaster ride as I completed my degree completely under online classes and distance teaching; the mentors were kind enough to help me get through this rough phase and after a rigorous job hunt, I eventually managed to land this job the day before my graduation.
Did you know what you wanted to do before you started University?
Having had a mechanical background before, I always wanted to be shop-floor and work on the machines. I had a clear idea where I wanted to be before I took my course as an operations management student.
Did you have any work experience before you graduated?
Yes, I worked in India as a production engineer for an automotive company for around two years where I gained lots of practical knowledge and people management as I handled 12 operators in the production line. Before that I worked as a graduate engineering trainee for a year where I got familiar with the documentation and administration side of manufacturing.
What do you love most about your role?
I love how I get to work on machines hands on and interacting with people with different perspectives and ways of doing things which I feel much better than working in front of a computer all day long.
What is most challenging about your role?
There are new things to deal with every day. The sense of eagerly anticipating the failure modes and trying to fix it in a given period of time is what makes it more challenging.
Have you faced any key challenges during your career journey, if so, how did you overcome them?
Dealing with operators with different skill set and background makes it all the harder to keep them on the same page. I find it particularly challenging to work in a team structure with different ways and approaches.
How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role?
I found it fascinating how work and student culture differs from country to country. Here in the University of Birmingham the faculty were very friendly and the careers advisers were on point with their suggestions, and a lot of practical case studies being included in the academics makes it easy to face real life challenges and situations.
What are your career plans for the future?
Not knowing what's in the box for the future is the fun part, isn't it? I strongly believe "going with the flow" motto and have no solid long-term plans. But working my way through my present employer are my short-term goals.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in getting into your industry or role, or if they’re unsure what they want to do?
Head down and work hard towards your goal and the success will eventually find you. Do not lose heart if things are not going your way, it's all a phase of life. When it comes to manufacturing industry, success is hard but sweet and growth is real and gradual and no overnight fame is worth it compared to this.
What would be your key piece of career advice for a student just entering the employment market?
It's a cutthroat competition. Finding what you love and relentlessly working towards it should be the main goal. Never postpone your work to the next day or next hour, because someone who hasn't given up on dreams might steal it from you. Chin up even if you're not employed. It will come to you if you really work hard. One last important thing, DON’T BE LAZY.