Durgesh Kolhe

Durgesh Kolhe studied a Master of Engineering Management after working as a Process Excellence Manager in India.

Qualification: Master of Engineering Management
Role: Process Improvement Specialist for Environment Canterbury

Durgesh already completed a masters focusing on thermal engineering in India, but was looking for a course that would help him expand more than just his technical abilities.

“While completing an Engineering masters in India, you are trained very hard in terms of technical stuff, in mathematical languages and then in different software but it does not train you on people management,” he said. “It doesn't give you any expertise in understanding how businesses work and what stakeholders are thinking when they implement something or how your actions affect them.”

“This particular course offered by UoA was pretty much targeted to the demands of professionals like me who really want to do even better in their careers. And this was one year long and also had a research project so I could do some research and potentially create some innovation. I could bridge that gap between industry while studying at university as well so I decided to come over.”

One of the first support systems new postgraduate students are offered is the Buddy Programme, which pairs new arrivals with people already embedded in their studies. For Durgesh, who was working right up until the day he left India, this was really helpful for making friends and connecting with fellow students who were in a similar situation.

“That was really the first kind of support that I had,” he said. “I attended almost all of the events like the trivia nights and it did help me to connect with many different people, not just in my discipline, but in various other disciplines.”

“It helped me get connected with the University staff and support members and really get involved with the University, because it has a very wide variety of events, so getting involved in those things meant I couldn’t feel homesick. There was lots of stuff to keep doing even if I'm miles away from my home.”

Durgesh was also able to prepare for New Zealand’s job market through Graduate School of Engineering workshops and professional development opportunities, noting that in general, New Zealand employers have different priorities when assessing new engineers.

“The culture in New Zealand is very different,” Durgesh explains. “If you go to India and get interviewed there, the major focus is going to be your technical skills and aptitude skills first, and then the last thing will be the HR requirements. Over here, you will be first evaluated as a person, your values are more important, your ethics and integrity are important and your technical skills need to be shown or should be visible through your CV work history or your LinkedIn profile.”

Durgesh recently started a job as a Process Improvement Specialist for Environment Canterbury. It’s a role he describes as a “big position” considering the organisation’s huge domain of work, but that one will allow him to make a positive contribution to the community he’ll be living and working in.

“They pretty much work in water, air, public transport, wildlife biodiversity and conservation of threatened species,” he said. “So my role is to continuously improve their processes, make sure that they are using optimum resources in terms of money and materials. The crux of it is getting more productivity while achieving more savings out of these processes so that the organisation as a whole can perform better from many associated benefits to thrive and grow and further come up with better projects for the public good.”

“I think [engineers have to] innovate, create and be empathetic about your society and nature, because ultimately that's where you're going to live. “If you do best in these domains and you get results out of that then automatically your whole surrounding changes.”