UBC MEL MHLP Professional Leadership Master Degrees

Advanced Materials Manufacturing — Negin Jahan Afrooz

Alumnus Story - Negin Jahan Afrooz

Advanced Materials Manufacturing — Negin Jahan Afrooz

Soon after completing her undergraduate degree in integrated engineering, which combines mechanical and material disciplines, Negin Jahan Afrooz realized a postgraduate degree would help her move into a career more aligned with her interest in heavy industry. She also wanted to improve her business and interpersonal skills so she would be confident moving into leadership and management positions.

“I noticed a real difference between the theoretical classes you take in school and the working environment,” says Negin. “I also noticed that I needed strong leadership and people skills if I wanted to move into management, especially since there are very few women in leadership positions in heavy industry. When I found the MEL, I realized that it offered the hands-on experience I was looking for and provided a bridge between what you learn in school and the skills you need to succeed in the workplace.”

Case studies focus on industry issues

Sixty percent of the courses in the Advanced Materials Manufacturing program explore sector-specific technical issues. “The case studies were great,” says Negin. “We learned where to start when tackling an issue and what needs to be considered. For some of these projects, we were able to visit specific sites to look at the problem in the right context. It made it much easier to understand issues from a variety of perspectives and to get a broader picture of what matters.”

Negin says that the focus on hands-on experiential learning was exactly what she was looking for. “When I first started working after my undergrad, I noticed a real gap between my coursework and the reality of working life. I use the skills I developed from all the MEL case studies every day in my work when I go out and look at equipment and then determine the most effective solution or find ways to improve the system.”

Business classes develop people and leadership skills

MEL students take classes on leadership, strategy, and analytics through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School. “You come together as a large group with all the other MEL and MHLP students for the business classes,” explains Negin. “It makes it easy to quickly develop your people and leadership skills. In my current job, I look after many projects and teams and I felt well-equipped to take on these leadership roles as a result of the MEL degree.”

Solving problems on the job

Several months after finishing the program in December 2016, Negin was hired as an engineer in training with Lehigh Hanson, a multinational company with a location in Delta, BC, that produces cement in a facility that operates 24/7. She believes that the MEL designation was a contributing factor to her success in the interview and landing the position.

“The leadership credential definitely helped me out, particularly as I didn’t have direct experience in the industry,” she says. “It gave me the confidence and knowledge to tackle my first independent project.”

She’s now a maintenance engineer in a cohesive team, which she says has enabled her to quickly gain a lot of experience in many different areas. She’s responsible for running everyday maintenance, annual inspections and shut downs. In addition to her primary duties as a maintenance engineer, her work has touched on areas that include overseeing capital projects, safety programs, purchasing and finance. Negin says the project management and other business and leadership skills she began developing in the MEL have proven useful as she develops long-term strategic plans, prepares budgets, writes funding proposals and leads teams to successfully deliver millions of dollars worth of projects from start to finish.

“I never liked being behind a desk,” she says. “The MEL helped me gain the hands-on experience and leadership skills I needed to solve problems, build relationships with my colleagues and make a positive difference for my company.”

Advanced Materials Manufacturing

Advanced Materials Manufacturing

Develop new technical and business skills and accelerate your career in this rapidly moving field.

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