‘I’m adding to the economy’s resiliency and creating opportunities’
“I had always dreamed about joining GE,” says Saima Shakir, a Contract Performance Manager Associate in the Power Generation Services division based in Lahore who recently completed GE’s Graduate Management Program. After all, “aspiring to be an engineer and not knowing about GE would be similar to driving down a road without a destination in mind!”
By pursuing her passion, keeping positive, and managing constant change and evolving challenges, Saima was able to achieve her dream.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Punjab in Lahore and had collected practical work experience, including two and a half years of project management experience as a Project Engineer at DESCON, a leading engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services provider and manufacturing company. She also worked at the Fauji Fertilizer Company during a summer assignment, where she developed an understanding of marketing.
It was at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), where she was completing her MBA, that she saw her opportunity to join the company of her dreams through its Graduate Management Program.
“I came to know about the program during a GE outreach seminar at LUMS where GE’s top management was on campus to brief us about the organization’s activities in Pakistan, its various openings and programs for recent graduates. I thought the program was extremely exciting and decided to apply for it,” she explains.
She was accepted and became part of the first-ever GE Graduate Management Program cohort in Pakistan.
The one-year program included two-month-long rotations at both the Sapphire and Orient power plants in Pakistan, where she gained on-the-job training and hands-on experience. She provided support to the Contract Performance Manager (CPM) regarding the execution of Contractual Service Agreements at four power plants in the country. In that posting, she learned about CPM tools and gained experience managing the profit-and-loss statements of long-term service agreements. The entrepreneurial environment that allowed the program participants to directly contribute to the clients’ businesses was particularly exciting for Saima.
“What I really enjoyed were the tremendous opportunities to gain exposure and volunteer to lead various activities for GE, irrespective of where you stood in the hierarchical chain.”
The different rotations provided her with a holistic picture of the power generation business, and perhaps best of all, connected her with mentors who shared their experiences and helped her think through appropriate solutions to various situations. By exposing her to diverse areas of the business, the program allowed Saima to discover where she could best use her capabilities, both for the company and for her own personal growth.
During the year, she also experienced the challenge and reward of delivering results and executing with precision in the midst of myriad changes. She attributes part of her success in the program, as well in her work, to being able to keep a positive attitude.
Meeting ‘uncertainty’ with ‘can do!’
“In today’s uncertain environment, particularly in challenging geographies such as Pakistan, a lot of hurdles and obstacles are bound to come your way every day. A ‘can-do’ attitude not only helps you get through them yourself, but also will inspire others to do their best.”
She is currently responsible for strategic activities, with a specific focus on increasing productivity of the 6FA gas turbine sites in Pakistan. In addition to planning and executing maintenance outages on GE equipment, she is involved in margin reviews, as well as commercial, risk, productivity and quality matters, as well as environmental health and safety, and operations and management.
Saima takes great pride in helping to make a difference in Pakistan. “Power outages are a major issue in Pakistan, leading to significant economic losses. I feel that in a small way, the work I do every day helps contribute towards minimizing these outages and increasing power output, thus adding to the economy’s resiliency and creating opportunities for ordinary Pakistanis. That’s something to be proud of.”