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In Conversation with Heinrich Nel – Mechanical Engineering Manager

Heinrich has been associated with Unique Group since 2005 and currently works as a Mechanical Engineering Manager in Cape Town.

Q1. Please provide a brief summary of your career to date.

I began my career working with Unique Group’s Cape Town office (Unique Hydra) way back in 2005 in the Design Engineering department. Over the course of these 16 years, my roles progressed into production engineering, production management, industrialisation, and engineering management.

Q2. What is your key area of expertise?

I have a passion to find new ways of doing things differently with the aim to exceed expectations and gain a sustainable competitive advantage. My key expertise lies in managing and delegating work packages as well as engaging in problem-solving.

Q3. What do you enjoy most about your current role?

I thoroughly enjoy being a part of a highly competent team of people working closely together with a focus on problem-solving and providing customer-focused solutions.
It is also very fulfilling to see my team grow and develop through the various hands-on learning opportunities presented by the numerous engineering challenges we come across in different projects.

Q4. What do you feel is necessary for anyone to excel in a technical / engineering role such as yours?

For a dynamic industry like ours, open-mindedness, and the ability to think outside the box is key. It is not a one-man show, and so, establishing strong collaborations between team members is highly essential in order to excel.

You also need to have the ability to understand customer requirements well and their expectations in order to translate them into well-engineered customer-focused solutions.

Q5. How would you describe a typical day for you at Unique Group?

A ‘typical day’s scenario is rare, this is what makes it challenging and rewarding at the same time. Every day presents a new and stimulating challenge due to various engineering projects running concurrently whilst each being in a different phase of the project life cycle.

Q6. Any key highlights to date of working with the company / key project you worked on?

The nature of the type of work we undertake makes every project exciting and challenging. One specific highlight that stands out was to be part of a team to develop and standardise a range of containerised air dive systems and solutions. This opportunity provided insights over a wide spectrum of engineering activities ranging from engineering design through to industrialisation, fabrication, assembly, testing and delivery.

Unique Group's Air Dive Systems 

Q7. What do you specifically do to maintain the professional/personal life balance? How has this changed since the onslaught of COVID-19?

The oil and gas industry is quite challenging and demanding, therefore it is imperative to manage a work-life balance with the aim to attain a state of equilibrium.

We were fortunate to be able to work remotely during the initial COVID-19 lockdown period, this was a new dynamic for most employees. My family was very supportive during this time.

Over the weekends, I try and set work aside to focus on other activities such as spending time with my family as well as DIY activities around the house.

Q8. What are you looking forward to this year, both from a personal as well as career perspective?

I am hoping for 2021 to be a better year than 2020 and looking forward to the prospects of returning somewhat closer to the normal way of life.

Workwise, 2021 is a special year for all of us in Cape Town as we complete 20 years in the business. For me personally, I am looking forward to learning new skills, gain new knowledge and increase experience by learning from others to continuously become better at what I do every day.

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