Hand over and high fives

Steve Marino brings a fresh perspective to NNE as an automation manager with his background as an electrician and a technician. Read more about his daily life and the variety at NNE that keeps life interesting.

How did you become an automation manager?

Before NNE, I worked both as an electrician and later as a technician working on filtration skids for pharmaceutical companies. I transitioned into automation, began here as an automation engineer and grew into my current position of automation manager.

I believe the fact that I don’t have a traditional engineering background provides a fresh perspective for NNE. I had never worked for a traditional engineering firm, but I did have a history with pharma and even experience with some of our current customers. The biggest difference between my experience and my current role is that, before, I worked on one portion of the plant – the purification process. Here at NNE, we work with the entire facility.

Moving into this much larger scope was a natural next step for me and a welcome challenge. In fact, several of my colleagues felt the same way. They also joined NNE in search of development opportunities.

What does an automation engineer do?

  I can try to summarise what an average day entails for me – working on site or in office, the normal length of a project or even the general scope of projects. But truth be told, my daily work includes a little bit of everything. That is one of the things I enjoy the most – I am given such variety. Just last week, I was in Los Angeles working on a conceptual design for a new greenfield facility and now I am in the midst of a two-week shutdown upgrading a control system here in South Carolina. It is important to balance your workload, as there will always be overlap of projects.

I am fortunate to have a competent department and great colleagues. They make my job easy because I know I can count on them to come through every time.

Steve Marino, Automation Engineer

Any advice for future engineers?

I am fortunate to have a competent department and great colleagues. They make my job easy because I know I can count on them to come through every time. When it comes to managing within automation, there are two things to always bear in mind:

1) You must understand the technical aspects of what your team is doing. You can relate to them and manage better if you are on board and clear with the scope and challenges they may face.
2) You need to maintain a good personal touch to your managing style. This primarily means always listening to your colleagues. Then, you need to act on what they ask of you, just as we do for our customers.

Know that you will always work on tight deadlines in automation. Shutdown and construction schedules can influence the time we have to complete our work in very short timeframes because that’s what it takes to deliver medicine to patients on time. It can get very busy, but having a great team to back you up doesn’t hurt. My colleague and I try to ensure that every project handover ends in a high five.


  • Steve Marino has worked in the industry for 25 years, beginning as an electrician for a milk factory and moving into engineering for purification processes for pharma companies
  • He was recommended by a friend and joined NNE in 2009 as an automation engineer
  • In (2011), he began serving as Automation Manager of the East Coast Automation team in Raleigh, North Carolina