From +40 To -40, DHA Section To YYC Section!
December 02, 2022
Introducing Sarmad Ali, our very own ISA Calgary Section 2022-2023 Treasurer who joined us a few years back from the balmy breeze that the ISA Dhahran Section enjoys. The automation profession has taken this family man many places where he's held many roles. Now that he's in Canada, his friends joke with him that he's moved from +40° C to - 40° C.
When he's not busy volunteering on our executive board, you can find him enjoying Alberta's prize possession, the Rockies, playing table tennis with his three kids, reading, and "fixing things my wife wants me to fix" (take note, he's been married 26 years)!
What would you say is your “claim to fame” in the automation industry?
I am proud to have worked with some of the world's most prestigious Automation and Oil & Gas companies, such as ABB (Pakistan), Yokogawa (Saudi Arabia), and Honeywell (Saudi Arabia and Canada), for which I held impressive accounts such as Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, and the world's largest O&G company.
How is the automation industry different on the other side of the world?
The Middle East is definitely more advanced, they have the vision and the desire to use THE LATEST technologies.
What is the most innovative technology that you used in Saudi Arabia?
I was most impressed by Aramco's massive control centre at their headquarters in Dhahran. It controls everything for the company - in fact, the entire country's assets.
How long have you worked in the automation industry? What positions have you held?
Over 30 years. Positions as my career progressed were: Application Support Engineer, Sales & Marketing Engineer, Sales Engineer, Account Manager, Senior Account Manager, Principal Account Manager, Sales Director and Regional Sales Leader.
How has the industry changed over the years?
Automation has become paramount. There is definitely more emphasis on cost effective solutions and the advances in digital transformation.
How did you first learn about the ISA? What attracted you most to this organization?
I first heard about ISA while working in Saudi Arabia. I started attending their technical presentations, which I found very enlightening when it came to new and cutting edge technologies. It also helped in networking with peers in the industry and customers. I had to become a member and have been ever since.
You've been involved with the Dhahran Section and the ISA Calgary Section. What key roles did you play?
For the Dhahran Section, I volunteered in general helping with coordinating section activities. For the Calgary Section, I held the role of Secretary for 2021-2022.
Why ISA? What value do you get out of your membership?
In my opinion, ISA is one of the best platforms for gaining industry knowledge, standards awareness and Certification-based recognition. As a CAP (Certified Automation Professional) it helps me to cement my credentials and stay current (you need to renew every three years). Above all else, the chance to network with like-minded professionals.
What would you say is your biggest volunteer accomplishment for the ISA?
I'm in the midst of fulfilling it. I plan to serve the full five year executive board term with Calgary, starting with Secretary, through Treasurer, to Vice President, President and then Past-President.
Did/Do you have an ISA Mentor? Which ISA member has inspired you most?
I myself mentored a lot of young professionals throughout my career. In Canada, Ian Verhappen has been a mentor for me. He guided a number of us while preparing to write the CAP exam and he’s inspired me the most with his knowledge, writings and contributions to developing ISA and other international standards.