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Widad Haddad, BEng '02

Mechanical Engineering | Adopting a broad perspective

Widad Haddad has a big job.

As Vice President and General Manager for Emerson Automation Solutions in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and Lebanon, she oversees 113 employees, four facilities and the range of the automation technology company’s business in her region.

“I manage everything from sales to marketing to facility management, the legal side of things, the customer side of things, and service,” says Haddad.

 “I like the breadth of it,” adds the 2002 Mechanical Engineering grad. “It’s very broad and varied, and no day is like another in my week, which is something I really appreciate.”

While she began her career working in a mechanical engineering role, Haddad says it was her willingness to move into other areas – including sales, marketing and advertising – that prepared her for taking on such extensive management responsibility.

“I broadened my perspective,” she says. “And the combination of an engineer mindset and a willingness to not necessarily be labelled by my degree led me to this point.”

That open-minded attitude is one she urges on new graduates. 

“When we graduate as engineers, we think we’re only going to do engineering. But I always tell people not to hesitate to try other things, but to explore all their opportunities.”

Her interest in the power of the mind led Haddad into learning about clinical hypnotherapy and eventually psychology. In 2017, she earned an online post-graduate degree in organization and business psychology from the University of Liverpool.

While a very different discipline from engineering, she says it’s been useful in helping her understand people, coaching and the structure of her organization.

She says she has also benefitted from the early training in cultural adaptability that she received at McMaster as a result of being exposed to many different people, cultures and nationalities.

Now, working with over 55 different nationalities, she recognizes the importance of valuing diversity.

“Dubai, where I work today, is as diverse as Canada, if not more so,” says Haddad. “It’s not always just the academics you gain from a university – the population and the environment can also help you later on.”