Mentor Spotlight: Farhad Ali
Today we're talking to Farhad Ali currently a Geotechnical Engineer at Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc.
Farhad joined Sanborn Head in 2019 and has been focusing on geotechical engineering design and implementation. He assists with project documentation and specifications, field reports and sketches. Farhad’s field experience includes construction and blast monitoring, compaction testing, subsurface exploration, enviromental drilling and sampling, air monitoring, Phase 1 Environmental Site Assesment, pre-construction surveys, and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan inspections and paving.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology and is an Engineer in Training.
We chatted with Farhad to discuss his experience with mentoring and how he approaches being a mentor.
Read the full spotlight below to learn more about Farhad and see why we feel grateful that he was part of our mentoring program.
Could you tell us a little about your career path and what brought you to your current work?
I work as a geotechnical engineer. My dad is a telecommunication engineer so, I was always interested in engineering. But I also wanted to be a jet pilot. I went to a military boarding school and there I found out that I couldn’t be a jet pilot because of my eyesight and because I had broken an arm as a kid that didn’t heal correctly enough for them. So, I decided to pursue my second goal of becoming a civil engineer.
So how did you get into mentoring? How would you describe your approach, and what you try to achieve when working with mentees?
I have always had mentors growing up and I have felt the tremendous positive change my mentors have brought in my life. So, it was easy for me to take advantage of this opportunity and become available to help others who might need a mentor.
My goal is to get comfortable enough with mentees so that they can share with me any problems they are having and that they feel comfortable enough to ask for me help if they need to.
What’s the biggest buzz you’ve got during your time mentoring?
Meeting the mentees for the first time and getting to know them is very exciting.
What would you say that you get from mentoring, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I get a sense of giving back to the community. It always feels good when you feel like someone can rely on you and can ask you for help should they choose to.
Professionally, mentoring is a great platform for networking and meeting new people from various backgrounds.
One word -- verb, noun, adjective, adverb -- that describes a Mentor's role.
Are there any tips you’d give to new mentors who are unsure what they’re letting themselves in for?
Don’t hesitate to initiate conversations. Once you get through the initial “awkward phase”, it’s fun to know your mentee and talk to them.
And how about mentees who’ve never experienced 1-on-1 mentoring before—do you have any advice on how they can approach the experience to get the maximum benefit from it?
I’d say the same about mentees, don’t hesitate to reach out to mentors. The more you reach out and make efforts to communicate, the more you get out of this experience.
Finally,… funniest story from your career so far?
I work as a geotechnical engineer and part of my job is to monitor construction. There was one construction superintendent, an older gentleman, who liked to prank. So, I teamed up with his assistant and decided to prank him instead. I connected my phone to his “Alexa” device in the construction trailer and then had Alexa read anything I typed into google. For three days, he though the robots had become advanced enough to take over the world. We’d make Alexa say things like, “Hi Jim, I saw you at the Olive Garden yesterday. How did you like the breadsticks?”. We had to end the prank when he was about to “break that thing to pieces” because it was getting too creepy. Fun times.
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