Alumnus of the Month - August 2016
BEng Telecommunications and Computer Networks Engineering, 2006
Sif-Eydine Ounas is a Senior Software Engineer at Thomsons Online Benefits, a leading provider of software for global employee benefits administration and employee engagement.
He recently left his day job behind for ten days and travelled to West Africa to participate in the 5th edition of the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon. Sif elected to run a distance of 10k in the scorching heat to raise funds for the charity’s important work creating educational opportunity for some of the world's most vulnerable children.
‘Most of my friends, colleagues and family members thought that I was crazy to go to an Ebola affected area…but I raised in excess of £3400 for Street Child, which would be sufficient to build a school over there.’
Upon returning he reflected that perhaps there was more he could do for charity and he began to consider ways to share his special trip with others. One Friday afternoon, Sif dropped by the Alumni Office to share his story and asked for help to raise awareness of Street Child.
‘Having studied at LSBU with students that came from all backgrounds, I thought that some would recognise their past and for the more fortunate ones who were raised in Western countries, perhaps I could help raise their awareness and motivation to actively support charities like Street Child.’
Sif came to LSBU having completed two years of a degree in Networks and Telecommunications in France. He calls the move a strategic choice, an opportunity to improve his English while gaining a qualification that would give him his first step into the job market. He credits the relationships he formed at the University as being some of the highlights of his experiences here.
‘One of the most important is that I met my wife at LSBU and we now have a two year old daughter. On another note, studying at LSBU helped me to meet some talented individuals, some of whom became friends and ended up working with me through company referrals.’
At work Sif believes that communication, attention to detail, creativity and mentoring peers are the most important skills needed to succeed. He emphasises helping others, stating that when you share knowledge, you make room for new learning opportunities and greater development. ‘Not everyone has the same capabilities, so I would add that being tolerant is a great way to succeed.’
Being in London, one of the biggest tech hubs in the world has enabled Sif to stay up-to-date with new technologies. It’s also provided opportunities for networking thanks to free meet-ups and conferences where he’s met people with the same technological interests.
‘Many people would say that London is full of opportunities and that you can change job when you want. While true, I have only had two jobs since graduating and I’ve been with my present employer for over five years. I think the really appealing aspects of working in London are:
- You will meet people from all backgrounds, cultures and professions.
- You have the opportunity to find a role in an industry that you enjoy.
- You can find suitable activities whether you are young/old, single/attached, sporty, or if you have children.
- It has one of the best commuting networks, very important for a big city.’
Sif enjoys his job and is happy where he is but like most people finds himself considering the future. He hints that the role of Chief Technology Officer interests him, and so does the world of technology start-ups. When asked what advice he’d share with current students, Sif reflects:
‘We never hear it enough, and as a student I never did it enough myself: Work hard while you are at university. Getting good grades will help kick off your career. Also, if you are passionate about something, spend time outside to work/reflect and increase your knowledge and skills in that area; we often underestimate the potential it can have. You will impress an interviewer but more importantly, your confidence will be raised too. Take advantage of the library and any other resources you can get as a student (free Microsoft software is a good example to help you build office or technical skills). Don't forget to have fun, find the right balance with any scholarly efforts you are putting in; it will help you to have a positive outlook as well as improve your social skills, which are non-negligible in the workplace.’
Thanks Sif for sharing your story.