Henri has much experience when it comes to pumps and sealing technology and Pump Engineer was delighted when he agreed to be on the steering committee for the next Pump Summit Americas Conference and Exhibition, taking place in Houston, Texas in the summer of 2018. Here, he talks about his daily work duties as well as emphasizing the benefits of knowledge and experience.
Although he has many years of experience working in the engineering world, it is interesting that Henri did not actually begin his career with engineering in mind. In fact, he graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and then went on to study law at Boston College. After practicing law for some time, Henri realized that his passion lay in another field, and it was then that he decided to trust his instincts and pursue something different. He enrolled in Northeastern University and studied an offcampus program, eventually earning a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. While studying for his engineering degree he established some connections and eventually made his entry into the pump industry when he was hired by an engineering company. “Most people at the time thought I was crazy, including my friends and family,” says Henri. “However, I decided I was interested in engineering and wanted to learn more about it; I changed careers and it was the right change. One thing I tell people is that law is reflecting backward, whereas engineering is forward thinking. That’s one of the reasons why I changed.”
Henri stayed with the same company for a significant amount of time but 3 years ago decided to take on another role. He resigned from his position and became a consultant, a decision that was partly fueled by his involvement in the FSA. Having been a member of the association for quite some time, Henri seized the opportunity to become the new Technical Director for the organization, allowing him to work with a wide range of people in the industry as well as being
able to simultaneously manage a consultancy career. Unsurprisingly, Henri has a lot of responsibilities to take care of on a day-to-day basis but details that his role as a consultant involves much time spent behind a desk, often having virtual meetings. Yet, his consultancy career is not so different to his earlier career. He explains: “When I was employed at a young age I was involved with a lot of engineering, but through the years I became more and more involved with management, which is very different from doing actual engineering work. The management role involved a lot of administration and delegating of responsibilities; things that are not directly linked to engineering. As a consultant, there are a lot of things that are not related to engineering either.” Some companies have a specific problem that they need a resolution to and Henri’s job is to offer advice; informing them about what they may have been doing wrong and suggesting solutions they should try.
In addition to his consultancy business, Henri is kept busy with his involvement in the FSA. His daily duties as Technical Director of the FSA involve conducting meetings, taking notes, attending conferences, taking part in discussions, and he also gets involved with other associations and groups, such as the Hydraulic Institute. He is also responsible for promoting industry products, especially highlighting their ability to be more productive and providing a cleaner environment. Also, he is involved with various publications and organizations, and spends a lot of time acting as a liaison between these different groups; looking for areas of common interest. However, in contrast to his consultancy role where he offers advice, Henri outlines that his role as Technical Director can be difficult as there is no line of authority when working with volunteers. Therefore, he has to coax and motivate people to do what they initially said they would do. “It’s always a balancing act with the consultancy work and the association work, trying to interact with everybody. At times it can be incredibly busy and I might have to work nights and weekends, while other times it might be slower. I just have to be able to adjust to that,” he says. It’s a challenge to pester people without being annoying, he explains, and there are some commitments that he has, such as with publications and articles, whereby deadlines come up and nothing happens. Nevertheless, there are many things that Henri enjoys about being a part of the FSA.
If you would like to read the full interview with Henri Azibert, please contact Deirdre Morgan