Graduate Profile - Binfeng Zhang
Name: Binfeng Zhang
What degree/s did you study and when did you graduate?
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical)/Bachelor of Commerce (International Business). Graduated in 2011.
Where do you currently work (sector/organisation) and what is your position title?
I'm currently working at Arrium (formerly known as OneSteel) as a Process Improvement Engineer. I am in the first year of my three year graduate program. My job involves finding ways in which the company can operate in a leaner manner, and to reduce costs whilst increasing the profit margin. These goals are achieved through an engineering perspective, especially in process flows.
Please describe a typical day/week in your role. What do you enjoy most about your work?
Due to my role as a process engineer, I am heavily involved with work in the plant and as a result a good part of my day is spent talking with the operators to understand the processes and how to improve them. I have already implemented some processes in place and I check the progress on those processes first thing in the morning. The rest of the day is spent in my office mapping the process on a program and attempting to find a solution to the problem(s).
The most enjoyable aspects of my work are probably the fact that I get a lot of autonomy in how I achieve my end goals and I also know that my work will have a positive lasting impact on the workplace.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your current role?
One of the main challenges is trying to get the people in the plant to accept the changes that I am pushing through because people have been accustomed to doing things a certain way for a very long time. This means that often culture change involves breaking preconceived notions and replacing them with alternate ones that are more beneficial to the business and reflect the changing business environment.
Can you give a summary of your career journey so far? How did you get started in your career? What recruitment processes did you go through? What has been the highlight of your career to date?
My career so far has been very rewarding because I have worked on some very interesting projects and I have learnt a lot of new things about operations and processes that I otherwise would not have learned about during my years at the University.
I applied to the OneSteel graduate program after having completed a three month vacation program with the same company. I thoroughly enjoyed my vacation program with OneSteel and I think having done work experience with this company allowed me to perform better during the interview stages as I was more comfortable with the people who interviewed me. I had a phone interview to begin with, followed by a psychometric test and an assessment centre. The final stage is an interview with the manager who was directly responsible for me during the graduate program.
The highlight of my career thus far would be meeting the different people that I work with. It has been a real joy getting to know the people that I work with and obtaining all this knowledge that would benefit me in my professional career and personal development.
Which skills are highly valued by employers in your field? In your experience, what are the qualities of successful candidates eg relevant work experience, specific degree or industry qualification, specific skills, networks, extracurricular involvement?
Employers in my field are generally looking for people who graduated with engineering degrees because OneSteel is building upon its mining portfolio. Having a commerce degree attached to the engineering degree has helped me secure my current role as a process engineer in the Operations team.
OneSteel does consider your academic results, however, there is also a strong emphasis on work experience in related and unrelated industries, in addition to your extracurricular activities. This is primarily due to the fact that OneSteel does promote a work-life balance.
What are your top three tips for university students wishing to enter your field of work? eg networking, postgraduate study
1. Read up on what is happening in the relevant industry you are applying to – more specifically find out as much as you can about the company.
2. Find work experience in the relevant sector that you are applying for.
3. Demonstrate that you are able to analyse information in a critical manner and disseminate truth from noise.
Are there any myths associated with your industry that you would like to debunk?
Often the mining industry has been viewed as being a male dominated sector. This is becoming more of a myth as the years pass because at OneSteel we do have a good male to female employee ratio. The same can be said of the graduate intake.
How do you manage the balance in your life?
As mentioned previously, OneSteel promotes a work-life balance. This means I have the flexibility of commencing work at 7am in the morning and finishing early in the afternoon. This flexibility allows me to engage in outdoor sports and any other hobbies with plenty of time to spare to have dinner and relax at night.
I find that I really enjoy working on the projects that I have been allocated but I have stopped myself from bringing work home. This is essential because I am a big believer in keeping the two separate, at least while I am in the graduate program.
How do you keep current in your field? (eg professional development, membership of professional associations, conferences, networks)
I am a member of professional bodies such as IChemE, APESMA and Engineers Australia. Where possible, I attend the seminars or lectures held by other engineers in their field of expertise.