Kenyan Sohail Alam of M&E firm CommTech only came to England five years ago – but he's already set to go global with his mechanical engineering skills
How did you end up in the UK?
I grew up in Kenya and came to the UK five years ago to study at Brunel University. I took a masters degree in mechanical engineering with building services. I had been given a scholarship from the university – I couldn't have afforded it otherwise. It was very daunting, especially because I was alone, but everyone was very supportive and I made friends quickly. After that I settled in fine, and I've never looked back.

How did you get interested in construction as a career?
My family run a small mechanical contracting business in Kenya. I used to help out there in my school holidays and really enjoyed it. That's also how I first met my current company – I worked alongside it on the British High Commission building in Nairobi in 1994.

So how did you land a job with CommTech?
When I was writing my university dissertation, CommTech had worked on one of the buildings I was writing about. They showed me round the building, and when I asked about summer placements they gave me some work experience. When I graduated, I had several job offers but theirs was the best. I've been here two years now.

What does your job involve?
It's basically about managing the mechanical systems on various sites. At the moment I'm working on the BBC's White City site, which is massive. It's an amazing learning opportunity for me because I actually get to see the theory I learned at university being put into practice on site. I'm getting a lot of support from the senior engineers and it's all going really well.

Would you like to work in Kenya at some point?
I already have. Earlier this year I went back there to work on the Canadian Embassy. It was amazing to be there, on site, as a professionally trained engineer. Working for a British organisation is well respected over there, so that was a very enjoyable experience. I'd like to travel more, and work in other countries. The foreign work opportunities within CommTech are fantastic. They have so many jobs overseas, so I could work all over the place.

What other ambitions do you have?
I'd like to get as much experience with CommTech as I can, and then eventually I'd like to become a project manager working on really large sites around the world. There's a lot of work springing up in Africa now – in Kenya a lot of buildings are being planned, as well as in Zimbabwe and South Africa. There's also a lot of work in the Far East. I'm looking forward to globe-trotting!

Sohail Alam

Age 26
Current job Engineering manager, CommTech UK
Employment history Joined CommTech two years ago as a graduate trainee, underwent 18 months’ training before being promoted to manager
Qualifications Masters degree in mechanical engineering with building services at Brunel University in west London
Lives Harrow