Focus on Venera Vonk, Project Engineer at American Engineering Procurement and Construction

Can you describe your current role and responsibilities?

I have a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and I worked as a piping engineer for the first part of my career between 2007-2011. When I moved to the UK in 2011, I started working in the engineering management department because my company saw high potential in my communication and leadership skills. Over the past few years, I’ve gradually moved from engineering management to project management. Engineering management focusses heavily on engineering whereas project engineering is focussed on the overall project. Engineering management has visibility on the wider aspects of the project like the overall strategy, cost, schedule, risk, quality, safety and engineering.
 
In my current project, I am responsible for data analytics and reporting. This is where my company needs me right now. I am constantly pushed to try new opportunities and experiences. As a reporting lead, I have a large team that I have direct communication with and I work with people from different departments. Our team collates and analyses data from the whole project and we prepare summary reports to the management which includes financial forecasts, budget, potential slippages in the schedule, and any risks or mitigations. I have two direct reports that support me and together we make a strong team. 

In my role, communication is one of the key elements for success. There’s always lots of meetings to gather information from the different departments and we need to clearly communicate the report outputs to the senior management team.

So, how did you land your first job in STEM? 

I studied Mechanical Engineering at Atyrau Oil and Gas Institute in Kazakhstan. Whilst I was studying, I applied to be a summer intern for an American Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) company before my last year at University. I passed their interviews and interned for them for three months full time. At the end of the internship, they selected two students out of 12 and offered them permanent jobs. I was one of the two chosen. My University relieved me of my hours so I could take the job. I completed my degree learning online and I worked full time through my last year of Uni. I worked there until 2011 and then I moved to the UK.

How important are your qualifications vs your hands-on experience in your role?

The basics of my job and the first few years of working were linked to my University course. When I came to the UK I had to learn on the job. Nobody taught me how to manage a team and this is something I am still learning as I go through my career. In my experience, soft skills are hard to learn but they come with practice and some mentoring as well. 

Any advice for jobseekers looking to get into your area of expertise?

Nowadays you have to have a qualification to get into engineering – at the very least a Bachelor degree and preferably a Masters. If you are willing to take on challenges and push your boundaries then you can succeed by trying your best and asking the right questions.

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© EuroJobsites 2022

EuroJobsites is a registered company number: 4694396 VAT number: GB 880 9055 04

Registered address: EuroJobsites Ltd, Unit 8, Kingsmill Business Park, Kingston Upon Thames, London, KT1 3GZ, United Kingdom

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