Meet the Team – Nav Dharni

Meet the Team: Nav Dharni

1. Describe your job as if you were explaining it to a five-year-old.

I’ll describe my job as kind of like baking a cake. So, in order to bake a cake, a project manager would have to see how we get to the end goal, which is we want a cake, but in order to get there, we need the starting pieces. We need to make sure we have our ingredients, then we need to know how to bake it.

And in all of this, it requires planning – that’s a key part of the job, understanding what may also go wrong.

You get your ingredients, you know how long the cake is going to take to make, you follow the instructions, and a project manager does something very similar with projects. You know what your end goal is and it’s about getting all your pieces aligned to see how you can achieve that and then tracking it as you’re going along.

In the same way as you’re baking your cake, you’d give it a quick try to make sure it tastes good. Then you put it into the oven, checking it regularly to see how it’s baking. And then you have your end product and hopefully, it’s a wonderful cake and a completed project.

2. What types of projects are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am on a project team that I would describe as delivering EPC projects – E for engineering, P for procurement, and C for construction. It involves taking engineering projects from conceptual design all the way to purchasing the equipment and then doing the installation and construction work.

3. How did you get into the industry?

I followed quite a traditional path. I went to university and did my degree and master’s in chemical engineering. I was eager to begin my career with a foundation of technical experience, so I joined a graduate scheme. I followed a couple of technical rotations during the 18-month scheme and then I just kind of took it from there.

I went into project engineering roles and the skill set that I was developing and the roles I enjoyed the most were in the field of engineering project management. So, taking my technical understanding of projects and applying that knowledge to facilitate a group of SMEs in the delivery of a project.

I was in the UK at the time and working in the gas and electricity industry. Life then took me to the United States where I started working for a multinational medical device corporation in project lead roles and project management.

Medical devices was a totally new industry for me – I went from utilities, gas, electricity into medical devices. But that’s the great thing about engineering – you can apply your experience and knowledge across different industries.

4. What is your proudest moment (work life or personal life)?

I would say getting first-class honors in my master’s, I think that was a proud moment, to be in the top percentile of my graduate cohort at Aston University in Birmingham, England.

5. What’s the best advice you could give to someone thinking of coming into this industry?

Don’t let the stereotypes or your assumptions get in your way. I think engineering as a whole is a really exciting place to be, especially now with the advances that are coming about with new technologies and machine learning and AI – I think AI is definitely a big part of the future.

For people who are thinking about a new career or what career they want to do, I would say one thing that is beautiful about engineering is it’s so diverse. There’s so much you can do. Even if you have studied one particular discipline of engineering, you’d be surprised how many other roles or jobs you can go into. I think engineering gives you a basis of really good core skills that can advance you for a successful career.

Engineers typically think with a mindset that I think a lot of employers seek. You are able to think abstractly, your logical reasoning is risk averse, and you’re very pragmatic – I think these are things that employers do like.

I also think in engineering you develop quite strong interpersonal skills, which are really important as well. Typically, you are working with all sorts of people in multidisciplinary teams, so your communication skills are also advanced.

6. Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

I love to travel. I love to explore different cultures, learn about them in an experience where I’m actually in the country.

I don’t know if it’s a passion, but I definitely do it a lot – I love to eat out. I love to try different restaurants. And I like to cook. I like to, you know, chef it up sometimes in the kitchen.

So, food, food, food, and travel.

7. What’s the best thing about working for life sciences customers (pharma, MedTech, etc)?

I think it’s really interesting to be able to see how much work goes on that you would never realize. Sometimes we look at these medical device companies or pharma companies and we’re just familiar with the big names, the brands, and the products. I think it’s really nice to see everything that happens in order to get that product out, that journey of understanding the industry better.

Although we are not directly involved with patients or the customers who are buying the products, it’s nice to see you are involved in helping people and advancing technologies within the health sector. It’s nice to know you are part of something bigger.

8. What is the best thing about being on the SL Controls team?

In my experience so far, SL Controls is an organization that really does care about its employees. I think the relationships that are forged, you don’t always see that within the corporate world or in really large organizations. People are very supportive here. I think that’s a big asset to the company that they really want to support your development.