Name: Assif Yousif
Ethnic origin: Arab
Educational Details: MSc Structural Engineering – University of Manchester
MSc, BSc Civil Engineering – Baghdad University
Can you give your work title and what it is you actually do?
I’m a structural engineer working for Mouchel in partnership with Costain on the Yorkshire Water / AMP4 Water and Waste Water Projects. My responsibilities include, but are not limited to, leading the structural design efforts and producing a detailed structural design / calculations and specification to meet with design and construction programmes.
Were you always interested in this area as a career?
I have always been interested in this area and this is obvious through my career and academic history before joining Mouchel.
How did you find out about this particular career/job?
I come from an ‘engineering family’ and several of my relatives are civil engineers! Regarding my current position in Mouchel, I was recruited through a recruitment agency.
Have you ever experienced any racial prejudice in this sector? If so, how did you deal with it? If not – why has this not been an issue?
I have never faced racial prejudice in this sector in a way that it affected my career progress. There have been instances where people around me have raised race issues in one way or another; but never in an unconstructive or negative way. I believe that one’s colour or ethnic background is not an issue in my career area due to the fact business is all about making profit and you cannot make profit if you let your emotions affect your professional judgment about people’s abilities and skills in the work place.
Would you undertake further study in order to gain promotion?
I have always wanted to do further study; but it is not about promotion, it is about personal development. I wouldn’t hesitate to undertake a Phd if the right opportunity arose and if I could fund it.
What do you like most about your job and are there any downsides?
The most beautiful thing in my career is that there is so much room to deliver innovative ideas where my efforts are appreciated and rewarded.
It’s not a downside, but I have came across people (especially construction contractors) who suggest or at least hint that structural engineers are conservative. I think that is a big generalisation.
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you do?
As a structural engineer you need good communication skills, as you are dealing not only with designers, but also contractors and subcontractors on site. Also, apart from your academic qualifications, you need to keep your professional knowledge updated continuously. This will keep you up-to-date with the latest developments to help deliver cost-effective solutions. You must keep the safety of employees as your first priority, and you need to be able to solve problems and come up with new, innovative ideas.
What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to come into this sector?
You can be sure of three things people need: food, medical treatment, and shelter, so if you come into this sector you will never be out of job.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I believe that Mouchel is a caring and ethical organisation. This has come about due to its policy of consulting us as employees on ways to make the organisation a better company to work for. Looking around this big organisation, I have found there are people from different ethnic backgrounds working and enjoying their full rights with equal opportunity policy that has been adopted in every corner of the organisation. The big advantage of UK government policy is it encourages businesses to employ mixed management teams and workforces as a source of new skills. This has a crucial impact on local authorities where we begin to see mixed communities as a desirable and achievable outcome. Furthermore, individuals see their lives enriched through contact with diverse backgrounds.