This week on the final installment of the #poweredbypeople series, our new Vice President of Engineering Operations Younes Rashidi provides deeper insight into his rise to VP level while imparting some wisdom on how to be an effective leader for engineering teams.
What is your background and role within the industry?
I come from Iran where I worked in the oil & gas sector for over 14 years. It was there that I began to take on more leadership roles and gained extensive experience in team building, organizational change management, and technology transformation. After moving to Canada, I needed to upgrade my education, so I completed my master’s degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering. From there, I transitioned to a leadership role within Hedgehog and shifted my industry focus from oil & gas to renewable energy.
What does a VP of Engineering Operations do at Hedgehog Technologies?
VP of Engineering Operations is responsible for planning, implementing, and overseeing engineering strategies, procedures, and goals in the company. This opportunity will allow me to combine my engineering knowledge and experience with leadership skills to strengthen our engineering team with diverse skills and innovation toward our company’s growth. Such a talented team can then create values that we can share with our clients.
In fact, most of our projects will have some public exposure, from amusement rides, power plants to rail-based transportation systems. Because of that, there is a heavy burden of responsibility from the engineering team to the public. So, as the VP of Engineering and Operations, my main job is creating the awareness of “public safety is paramount” among my team. In summary, my focus in the position will be to build a talented engineering team that creates an exceptional experience for our clients while holding paramount public safety and protecting the environment.
Why did you get into this industry?
I always believe engineers can either find a solution to a problem or create one. The beauty of finding or creating a solution for unique and challenging projects is what makes me motivated.
What has been your favourite project?
Tough to choose one. I would say each project has a unique challenge that makes it favourable in its own way. If I choose one, I will definitely go with the renewable energy projects, which our planet needs the most in this era.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Balancing an equation that is made of engineering knowledge, leadership skills, and business responsibilities. As you noticed, I used “balancing” instead of “solving” the equation because the reality is that by solving it, you probably will lose one or two of those parameters.
Any advice for those wanting to become a VP of Engineering Operations?
Someone at the engineering executive leadership level should have a holistic view of engineering, not only paying attention to the details but also seeing the bigger picture. You can be a great engineer, but if you fail to approach a challenge holistically, it can leave critical gaps. Many engineers in my position strive to achieve perfection, but as I said before, this role is about balancing an equation that is made of engineering knowledge, leadership skills, and business responsibilities. So, they should learn how to balance this equation.
What has been most effective in advancing your career?
I strongly believe in education and its role in the advancement of professional life. Therefore, I have used every opportunity to upgrade my knowledge through formal university degrees or individual courses. I would say this has been the most effective approach for my career advancement.
“I never lose. I either win or learn.” —Nelson Mandela
Favourite place travelled?
The Rocky Mountains in Alberta had the most beautiful views I have ever seen. In one picture, I can have water, mountains, forest, glaciers, and blue skies.
Do you have areas of interest within the industry?
Renewable energy is one of them. Also, I have never worked on aerospace projects, but I would say it is one of my dreams, and I am looking forward to that opportunity because of the challenges involved in designing a system for space travel.
This wraps up the #poweredbypeople series, an inside look into the people who drive our organizational culture. Stay connected with Hedgehog Technologies on LinkedIn and Twitter.