Shifting career gears: From manufacturing to management
"I’ve realized that if I want to remain an asset I have to continue to upgrade myself.”
After working in vehicle manufacturing in the Middle East for 12 years, Niloufar, 40, Business Administration Automotive Management, was ready to learn another side of the industry and came across the globe to upskill at SAIT.
What were you doing before you began at SAIT?
I was an employee of Renault Pars, a car manufacturer in Iran, for 12 years. I started my career there working in logistics and worked my way up into the purchasing department as a senior buyer. In that role, I worked on contract negotiations, exports and the launching of new parts.
Why did you choose to come to SAIT?
First, I needed to upgrade my knowledge about the automotive business. Through my years of experience on the job, I’ve realized that if I want to remain an asset, I have to continue to upgrade myself. The Business Administration Automotive Management program was exactly what I needed to gain a better understanding of automotive dealership management.
In my research of post-secondary options, I found that SAIT is one of the only schools in Canada to offer a program like this and is recognized as one of the best schools in Canada, and the world.
I also have family who live here in Calgary and I thought it would be great to take advantage of that opportunity.
Did you ever hesitate at the idea of going back to school?
Never. When I applied to SAIT I was actually doing my master’s degree in Industrial Engineering, System Management and Productivity at a university back home in Iran. I didn’t feel that it gave me the experience I was looking for to move forward in my career. I’m passionate about learning and teaching — I’m sure this won’t be the last time I go back to school.
What has your experience been like in the BA Automotive Management program?
I chose the program because of its close connections to industry, but what’s really made me enjoy it has been my classmates and instructors. I’ve had a great experience because of them.
The vehicle industry in North America was like the dark side of the moon for me. How the vehicle industry operates in North America is a 180-degree difference compared to how its run where I’m from. For example, in my country, there are no car dealerships like there are in North America, only independent stores. If you want to buy a brand new car, you need to go directly to the distributor.
What have been some of your favourite moments at SAIT so far?
Pre-pandemic, I loved relaxing in the lounge and having coffee and tea with friends after an exam. I really enjoyed seeing all of the cool events put on by the International Centre, like Diwali — the Irene Lewis Atrium was filled with music and students dancing!
What advice do you have for new SAIT students starting their schooling in an online/blended environment?
I’ve had wonderful days on campus during my first year and hope they will also have the same opportunity to experience what I have. But until then, enjoy each moment of learning. These are the days of your life you will look back on one day, so make them good. Imagine yourself like running water, being engaged and continuing to learn will open your mind and make it easier to meet an ocean of opportunity.
Where do you hope to go with your career?
I hope to own a dealership one day.
What advice would you give to someone considering upgrading their education to advance in their career?
During the economic crisis, it is the smartest choice. You will go back to the job market powerful and confident. But even in less tumultuous times, it’s still wise to find opportunities to develop and upgrade your skills.
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