An interview with Zeba Naqvi, Ph.D.
What is your name, your full job title, and the full name of the company you work for?
Hi! My name is Zeba Naqvi and I work as a Technical Support Engineer II for ANSYS, Inc.
What is your favorite part about working in industry?
My favorite part of working in industry esp. at ANSYS is that higher-ups genuinely care for the success of new hires. They put in time and effort in mentoring new employees to come up to speed with the rest, always open to questions and give good advice for being successful down the road. I feel a positive vibe so far and love working here. Another thing is that your personal time is respected. If I want, I have the freedom to draw a boundary between work and not-at-work hours (wouldn’t want to call it ‘life’ as work is also life).
Can you describe what a typical day at your job looks like?
I am standing near the bottom of a steep learning curve. So my typical day is about playing with the tools and walking up to my mentors with any questions. They also stop by to see if I need help. Every other day the team spread across North America meets online to discuss any problems we run into during the week and all brainstorm to figure out solutions or sharing expertise. Everyday I learn something new.
How is your current industry position different from your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?
In my current industry position, I get to see the problems faced by all major companies and universities across the world that use electromagnetics in any form. So now I get to see a vast variety of problems of high quality and what the world is up to, while in academia it was a narrow set of problems with impact that may not come to life soon. Here it is the pressing need of the leading companies at the top of their game, needing solutions right away. So the impact is instant.
If you could go back in time, to before you received your job offer, and give yourself one piece of advice or encouragement, what would it be?
Don’t say no to an offer if you’re already working at a place you’re super passionate about. You never know when that team may dissolve.
What was the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?
The networking event at CLEO 2016. I made a great acquaintance with Prof Kishan Dholakia with whom I discussed random things like polar bears and my childhood wish to see northern lights. It is a far-fetched dream when you’re a kid in India. He gave an idea to make a travel agency that takes optics students on these trips to see the Aurora. I tried a bit but returned my focus back to myself. Within a few months, I sold my car as a poor graduate student and went to Iceland on a Christmas break and was stunned to see the lights with my very own eyes! This madness to bring one of my little dreams come true came during the first networking event organized by CSA.
Actually this was before joining CSA. After I joined CSA, I had to figure out what I really wanted to do as part of the first module. So I thought to myself I want to touch something that will go to space. After graduation before joining ANSYS, I got to work at Planet Labs in San Francisco where this came true. And now at ANSYS, I will get to simulate that stuff and analyse without the launch, simulate the behavior of self driving cars without having to test drive them for millions of miles, and lots of other exciting stuff. This is the best place I could be surrounded by smart people.
What do you see as the next step in your career?
My next step is to become the go-to person for a certain area of engineering problems.
How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?
CSA is powerful network of scientists to be a part of. I truly believe giving back will somehow bring back any help I need in future.
Now that you’ve spent some time working in industry, what is the biggest takeaway(s) you’d like to share with those who are still executing their job search?
Be open to opportunities knocking at your door. Don’t go by titles of the position. You may uncover a tremendous amount of knowledge needed to excel in that job. If in doubt, talk to people who know what it would be like. Industry has a lot of PhD’s and Post Doc’s driving it. People know where you’re coming from. Never assume you have a PhD so you will automatically get the job of your liking. It is not about qualifications (there are thousands of PhD’s minted every year), it is a lot about the ‘fit’ and who you know.
To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Zeba, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.
Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.