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Crystal clear management and engineering

Arifa Chakera

Crystal clear management and engineering

24 June 2011

Arifa Chakera is a Chartered Civil Engineer running her own company: Crystal Clear Management Solutions Ltd. In her spare time, she is a keen rock climber and runner.

I run my own business focussing on project and change management within engineering and manufacturing companies.  I chose the name carefully – too often, companies rush into delivery and find that things do not work out. Clear and shared expectations – ideally crystal clear! – are essential for all key parties before you take action. Key to success:

  • Understand the real needs of the organisation
  • Establish processes and resources to define a course of action
  • Innovate by enhancing the existing resources of the organisation
  • Enthuse the stakeholders by making them part of the changing process
  • Enable positivechanges for the organisation
  • Sustain results in time

I seem to have buckled the trend by decided to study engineering which is not typical in particular of my ethnic origin and being a women.  I recall the looks I got when I told my friends and family that I would be studying engineering, but my parents were very supportive and this helped incredibly.

I have always been fascinated by engineering; experimenting and investigating how things work. In addition, being brought up in Mombasa, resources were not freely available and therefore learning to build and fix things was part of the culture.

Then while I was studying my A Levels my physics teacher recommended that I attend a five day course at Bath University called INSIGHT into Engineering.  It was very practical, and very inspiring, and I went on to do study civil engineering at University of Leeds.

During my degree, I was able to learn and test how things work. I was always looking at buildings and machines and calculating how they work. I also realised the importance of engineering in everyday life and annoyed most of my friends by explaining everything in detail whether or not they were interested.

I did a Masters in Water Resource Management. This was a fantastic move as I was able to learn about the complexity and the importance of the water cycle. I then worked for Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) for seven years, and had the opportunity to design, build and commission water treatment works, wastewater treatment works, composting plants and reservoirs.

After accelerating my career, I wanted to challenge myself outside the water industry and see if my skills were transferable to other industries. I joined a niche Project and Change Management consultancy where I had the opportunity to work on large organisation and transformation projects with oil and gas industries. 

These 12 years experience with two fantastic companies provided me with confidence to set up my own business: Crystal Clear Management Solutions. Since setting up, I have worked for numerous industries including oil and gas, water, mining and motor. Through my engineering experience, I have been able to implement project methodologies to ensure that solutions are tailored to meet business and project needs. In addition, I learned the importance of balancing the drive and rigour needed to deliver projects with effectively managing, coaching and engaging all the stakeholders. 

Arifa climbing

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