Student Welcome Brunch Kicks Off Conference

The AIChE Student Conference kicked off this morning with a welcome breakfast.

Frank Bowman, chair for the Student Chapters Committee, opened with brief remarks and introduced June Wispelwey, who welcomed students and encouraged them to make the most of the event by building ties that will continue to serve well beyond school and into a chemical engineering career.

2013 AIChE President Phil Westmoreland also greeted students with opening remarks before the floor was turned over to keynote speaker Amir Farid, Vice President of Manufacturing - Americas, at Shell. (See Phil Westmoreland's interview with Farid at the 2013 AIChE Spring Meeting in San Antonio.)

Shell's Farid shares career tips

Farid engaged the audience with a short presentation to inspire students to find their place in chemical engineering and hone their skills. He emphasized the importance of finding an area in industry that fuels personal passion. For him, that area has always been working with people, because while he really likes the technology involved in the oil business, it's working with people and leading that excite him.

In addition to finding one's passion, he pointed out the importance of communications in building a successful career. He noted that not only great ideas but the ability to communicate them were key, recounting early experiences in the field and the growing pains of learning to manage and effectively communicate.

Farid, who is originally from Pakistan, also emphasized the importance of gaining experience aboard early in one's career. He suggested that understanding and learning to adapt to new cultures is a valuable experience that can help everyone learn to navigate both corporate and foreign cultures throughout one's career.

The last subject he touched on was process safety. He joked that if there were one subject he could discuss at 3:00 AM it would be process safety. In fact, he continued the joke saying that if he were up at 3:00AM it would probably be because of process safety concerns. Farid suggested that all students should do what it takes to become familiar with process safety and keep it in their focus, because industry owes the public the assurance of personal safety as well as energy solutions that are both environmentally ethical and sound.

He wrapped up with a few questions from the audience, with thoughts on mentoring, work-life balance, and alternatives to international experience that could be gained from AIChE or from large corporations such as Shell.