She doesn’t mind the heat on the manufacturing floor, and is completely at home wearing factory overalls. Meet Wineyya Abdulla, an Emirati chemical engineering graduate who has carved a career path among copper and aluminium cables at Ducab.
Wineyya works in an industry where few Emirati women venture.
According to the most recent Global Market Insights Inc study, the Middle East cable market size is forecast to have a valuation of $15 billion by 2030, a growth attributed to the ongoing investments in the power sector.
Wineyya’s sheer determination and passion for engineering to study and improve its impact on society has helped her sustain herself in this industry and grow her career graph significantly.
She credits her university professor for her successful career in the power cable manufacturing industry. During her chemical engineering studies at the American University of Sharjah, her university professor recommended and inspired her to join a manufacturing plant to learn the practical application of engineering.
Her career began with Ducab, one of the largest cable manufacturing companies in the country, as a manufacturing engineer at the Jebel Ali plant in August 2008. Within eight years, in 2016, she was chosen to assist in establishing Ducab’s aluminium factory at Kizad and was in the project team that commissioned the factory. She was appointed as the plant superintendent for the factory.
She says, “During my studies, I decided to focus on chemical engineering as I like to see how design principles apply. Engineering allows me to be a part of the production process when material components are turned into a finished product that I can see and touch.”
She joined Ducab to understand the practical application of electrical subjects and scientific procedures she had learnt. “In this company, I worked on the process of manufacturing Overhead Conductor, Aluminum Rod, Medium Voltage Copper and Aluminum Cables, practically executing different processes to make a finished cable.
Ducab is the only provider in the region to produce copper and aluminium cables, which offered Abdullah a unique opportunity to get exposure to working on the construction of different kinds of wires.
Wineyya had to face a few language barriers in the beginning as the shop floor at Ducab is full of people from different cultures. She says: “Initially, it was all about finding a common language to build my team’s trust and achieve our common goal. I gained experience managing my engineering role from different angles, cultures, and environments.”
Later, in her role as a plant superintendent for the aluminium factory, she further developed her leadership skills, understanding different requirements, meeting the goal as a team, and improving the design of the cable.
She adds, “I make daily visits to the factory floor to connect with coworkers to understand them more and build trust. I also make the daily factory visit to work with the manufacturing and maintenance teams to identify opportunities to balance continuous improvement with operational priorities to support business objectives.”
Her dedication to continue to succeed in this engineering field led her to continue her higher studies. “After joining Ducab, I decided to complete my master’s degree in Engineering System Management in 2012. Managing time for studies was difficult. I would attend classes from 6-9pm after work. Ducab supported me, granting me leave when required to finish my education, and I completed my studies in two years.”
Wineyya was also trained at Ducab, learning about lean manufacturing, a methodology focusing on minimising waste within manufacturing systems while maximising productivity. Another training she did was on Six Sigma, which helps improve the capability of their business processes and decrease process defects.
Talking about whether there is any reluctance among today’s Emirati women to work in engineering professions, she says parents must support their young girls and encourage them to choose a career path, including demanding jobs in the power cable industry.
“It should all start at school, supporting young girls during their studies and motivating them to take the career path which might not have been typical in the past.”
She proposes that promoting company cultures in real life is essential to give a chance to women to be successful and bring their best to the field.