Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Seven ways SELA helped my degree

Alaaeldin Sengab, Cohort 2019

One of the most important qualities to develop as an engineer is the ability to lead a team. Engineering is, by its nature, a collaborative effort and in order to be able to give most to the team one is working in, it is important to know how to lead. With this in mind, below I outline the 7 ways in which being a member of SELA has helped me develop as a leader. 


SELA membership has made me more confident in taking the lead and putting myself forward. I knew I had an interest in developing my leadership skills, and SELA allowed me to use every chance I had to practise those skills in real time. Due to SELA providing an encouraging environment, I stopped hesitating before raising my hand to volunteer myself as the leader of a certain project or task. I started to be the first one to say I am interested in leading the project and give my reasons why I think I would be well suited to the role on this occasion. Thus, by providing the supportive environment I needed, SELA helped me develop my confidence; a key attribute of any leader.


SELA has reinforced my leadership experience and given me the tools to lead a team successfully, such as dividing the project into tasks, distributing the workforce and building a successful team. Through SELA, I have been involved in various teamwork activities and I could see a great difference in the way different leadership styles worked. I found that strong delegation and organisational skills most often lead to team success. Going forward, I will apply this style of leadership to any projects I am heading.


SELA has helped me become a better networker. I know who to talk to and how to present myself effectively. As an international student, SELA taught me the right way to introduce myself in a networking event and how to make the best of my time on such occasions. I learned how networking is an essential skill I should be developing daily and use it even in my social life. This ability to network will allow me to support any leadership role I take in the future with relevant contacts and support.


My time in SELA has made me more reflective; SELA teaches effective ways to organise your reflection on past tasks in order to gain more from the exercise than you might otherwise. Using these tools I now feel confident in my ability to critically evaluate past performances in order to ensure later assignments capitalize on successes while avoiding past mistakes. This has improved my leadership skills as now I feel confident that, through reflection, I will be able to learn from my mistakes in order to develop a stronger leadership style.

People skills

SELA membership has helped me develop a lot of my professional skills, but people handling is chief amongst these. For example, being in a competitive environment and with a room full of people who are fighting to lead the team it is really important to be careful in choosing the appropriate words and tone. How you speak to people dictates whether they understand and appreciate your point or whether they reject what you’re saying based on how you said it. Understanding how best to communicate with a range of people will be invaluable to me as a future leader.

Smart goals

SELA has helped me to start setting goals and to approach them realistically, with specific timeframes and resources in mind. For example, rather than putting lots of goals down and trying to work on all of them at once, it is better to approach one task at a time. This allows you to ensure the quality of your work without being overwhelmed. Through the workshops and discussions, SELA taught me this method of approaching a work load and it has made me a more effective leader as I better know how to divide team tasks.


Once you are in SELA, you get SELA’s reputation. This is an amazing boost and encourages you to work harder so you can maintain it. For example, some companies ask specifically for SELA students and through SELA workshops and industrial visits you get to meet and connect with professionals in various fields, which gives you the opportunity to gain insight and understand what skills you need to develop or that you are missing. This has helped me develop my leadership as now when I work as part of a SELA team I understand that I’m working not just for myself but for the reputation of SELA as a whole.

SELA is an individual journey in which each member gains specific things from it. These have been just a small selection of the things I have learned. SELA encourages members to learn from and with each other, and to identify individual learning goals in leadership. This means that no two student’s journeys are the same, but either way the SELA journey is so worthwhile.

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