What in the World Is a Field Engineer? They Combine Technical and People Skills to Make Things Work

What in the World Is a Field Engineer? They Combine Technical and People Skills to Make Things Work

May 05, 2013 at 09:05am

Women have long played a vital role in engineering. They have overcome many challenges and obstacles to bring some of the most significant advances to this significant field – from bulletproof vests to the fire escape! Today, female engineers continue to face difficulties due to their gender, yet these four field engineers are taking on the challenge with hard work, dedication, people skills and deep technical proficiencies.

Unless you work in the engineering field, there’s a good chance you have no idea what a real “field engineer” does. As you can see from the comments below of the field engineers working at GE, it turns out it’s an extremely exciting and challenging job that requires loads of technical and people skills. It requires an ability to multitask, communicate effectively across cultures and perform under pressure. You must be flexible; you must maintain a keen interest in learning the latest technologies, and you must always have lots and lots of energy.

The rewards, though, are enormous, as Shaimaa Mohamed, with GE Power & Water, explains. “I support power generation, mostly in developing communities, and it’s so satisfying when I complete a job and then hear an announcement, on the country’s national news, for example, that they just added a certain number of additional megawatts to the grid, thereby meeting some of the community’s simple needs, such as having electricity or having more dependable electricity supply.”

Regarding the job’s challenges, she says, “We handle many technical and nontechnical tasks in parallel; sometimes we handle tasks on one site, while remotely supporting other sites in different countries. All the while, we are required to complete all tasks in an acceptable time frame, while being focused on meeting quality standards and achieving customer satisfaction.”

While observing that being technically strong “goes without saying,” Nimra Kazmi, with GE Power & Water, adds her perspective on the ever-changing nature of the job. “You may very well get a call in the middle of the night to travel early the next morning to a remote location you have never heard of. And on top of that, you are expected to fix an issue there that you know nothing about. But… that’s just how we field engineers roll!”

She goes on to say that field engineers travel from place to place and work with new teams, as they move from one assignment to another. “It is fun for those who like to see new places, meet new people and learn about different cultures, but you have to be highly adaptive to the changing environment. As far as I am concerned, it is the best thing about being a field engineer.”

Stefany Rizk, with GE Power & Water, agrees that “being adaptable is one of the basic requirement for a field engineer. A field engineer travels a lot, and always meets new people and staff. Cultural and social adaptation are a must.” She also says that to do the job well, you must “trust everybody’s competences but always double-check their work. Double-checking is crucial.”

Regarding the personal rewards of being a field engineer, Dareen Traboulsi with GE Power & Water says, “The fact that you get to be on the front lines of the action serves as a confidence booster due to the amount of responsibility you’ve been given, and the scale of the work, which can affect entire communities.”

Another source of pride is that she “gets the opportunity to encourage the idea of equality between men and women by accomplishing front-line field engineering jobs at a level that is as good as, or even better than, a male engineer.”

For a company such as GE that is committed to fostering diversity in the workplace, those are encouraging words. One of GE’s core goals in all of the regions where it operates is to foster the development of human capital among the workforce.

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