Where curiosity and communication are key

Prasanna Vudayagiri fills you in on the world of process automation and the exciting challenge of establishing a new department in Bangalore.

What does a director of automation do?

As Director, Automation for NNE in India, I am responsible for setting up the process automation department. We are a newly established department at our office in Bangalore, so at the moment, I am currently building our team of engineers from the ground up. It’s an exciting challenge to put together a team and know that you have the chance to leave a fingerprint on a growing department.

Working in automation means that you need a diverse range of skills from the technical to the soft side, but one of the most important things, in my opinion, is to maintain a sense of curiosity and interest in other areas. We’re in a niche field, but our work is so closely tied to the other disciplines that it’s essential to learn about them, as well. For example, you can’t successfully automate the process if you don’t know how the process itself works. So if you’re keen to learn and build on your own technical skills, but also enjoy collaborating and communicating across disciplines, then automation is a fascinating field to work in.

How did you become director of automation?

Process Automation Engineer

I’m educated as a chemical engineer myself and started off working in process engineering, but was intrigued by automation from the beginning of my career. When I joined NNE, I was excited to discover that automation is such a large part of our focus here – I hadn’t seen that anywhere else. We also have a very unique working culture and appreciation for teamwork. When you run into a problem on a project, your colleagues immediately jump in and are ready to help you.

Recently, for example, one of our customers asked us to put together a concept design for automating a single-use facility, which I hadn’t previously worked with. I reached out to one of my colleagues abroad, and he immediately set up a Skype call and spent a few hours going over the specifics with me. I used his suggestions, and the customer was really impressed. That support really sets NNE apart – when you’re looking for a solution, you can get it fast.

Should I consider a career in process automation?

My advice to those interested in a career in automation is this: communication is key. It’s essential for working across disciplines, knowing how to reach out for expertise, and for understanding and implementing what your customer needs. If you’re able to see things from another person’s perspective and communicate well with your customers and colleagues, then you can go a long way.