Today’s up-and-coming leaders are helping to shape tomorrow’s energy future. Whether it’s new thinking, fresh attitudes or technical solutions, showcasing their work and vision is of tremendous value to the entire energy industry.
Daily Oil Bulletin’s Rising Stars Class of 2019 is a showcase event of the excellent work done by young emerging energy leaders.
Today, we profile Hussain Ali, senior electrical engineer/project engineer with Wood Canada Limited.
Hussain Ali has grown and succeeded as an electrical engineer over the last 10 years through his participation in projects such as the front-end engineering and design of Suncor’s Fort Hills Oil Sands project, Suncor’s Tailing Management Program, Canadian Natural’s Horizon Extraction Train 3 and 4, and TC Energy metering station projects.
He has recently shifted gears to working in a project management role, which he finds even more satisfying because of its higher requirements for teamwork and communication.
“It’s still engineering but, in this field role, I have more dealing with contractors and the construction team. I really enjoy that,” Ali says.
This transition initially worried him, he admits. But given the alternative of “always doing the same thing,” he embraced the challenge.
“The more I think about it, the more I want to move into this kind of work where I need to understand people, their business needs, and put it all together, rather than limiting myself to pure electrical engineering,” he says.
Ali’s people skills and empathy also drive his community giveback. Four years ago, he began mentoring with Big Brothers and Sisters of Calgary and Area, and Hull Services.
Mentoring comes naturally to Ali. As the youngest of seven siblings (his family immigrated to Hamilton, Ont., from Kuwait during the first Gulf War when Ali was five), he is the closest uncle in age to his numerous nephews and nieces, so they often sought him out for support and guidance about school and life decisions.
When Ali left that large extended family in Ontario in 2011 and came to Calgary, that informal mentoring role disappeared. He says a bit of that void drove him to formal mentoring, but he also wanted to mentor someone not related to him.
“I had to go through some tough times myself and I figured it out. But not everybody figures things out. Not everybody has the coping skills or the support to figure things out,” he says.
Hull Services paired Ali with a 12-year-old who suffered from social anxiety, lacked social skills and friends, and spent a lot of time online.
“There’s often a lot of negativity online around video games which some kids then bring into the real world. They often don’t know how to interact and be respectful,” he says.
Ali built a relationship with the boy and introduced him to the things he liked to do, including board games and role-playing table-top games.
Over the course of two years the boy’s parents witnessed their son’s transformation from awkward shyness to confidence, renewed interest in school and friendship. Hull Services recognized Ali with a Mentor of the Year award for his efforts.
“The best thing for me was when he told me that I taught him how to care for others. It brings a tear to my eyes,” says Ali, who is married and says he also is planning to have a family — “but maybe not as big as the one I came from.”
Ali is now mentoring a 16-year-old boy who lives in a group home.