Ofcom engineer obtains chartered engineer status

06 November 2019

Sara Salim conducting fieldwork as a spectrum engineer.Ofcom engineer Sara Salim has scooped the internationally recognised chartered engineer status – and it’s all down to her hard work.

Spectrum field engineer Sara has many strings to her bow, from rewiring and plumbing homes to her day job as an engineer.

Based at our Birmingham Office, Sara has worked at Ofcom for ten years. She started as an apprentice – the only woman in a team of ten apprentices – following a degree in digital communication.

And she’s loved her job ever since, particularly as no two days are ever the same.

Sara explains: “I look after the Leicestershire and Coventry area. One day I can be working on a mobile network operator case, dealing with an interference complaint on the 900 MHz band. Another day, I could be tracing the source of abuse on a radio system.”

Sara is also part of Ofcom’s future leaders programme, where she was one of 30 colleagues selected from a large number of applications. But not one to rest on her laurels, Sara decided to go for chartered engineering status.

But achieving it wasn’t an easy task. Sara says: “It took two years to build a portfolio and 15-page application. You must meet tough academic criteria. I worked closely with the professional review advisor and Ofcom’s Spectrum Director Mark Walls provided brilliant support.

“I was invited for a gruelling interview and assessed by two experienced communication consultants. They grilled me and I had to present on the various projects I’d worked on. It was a technical engineering competency-based interview, which you can’t prepare for. I had to provide examples and expand on these to demonstrate understanding."

Sara adds: “It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done! Harder than mathematical exams as there’s a lot of pressure – with two people judging you and marking your answers. You have to demonstrate you’re working at a master’s level – so the grilling is harsh.

“I was relieved when the interview was over but had no idea how I’d done as they were completely poker-faced. In fact, at the time, I felt I hadn’t got it.

"I waited six weeks to get the results and was delighted when I received the certificate in the post.

“I really wanted to achieve CEng status to prove to myself I could do it. I hope this encourages fellow engineers – particularly women – to go for it too."

A close-up of Sara's certificate of her chartered engineer status