Q&A with Brandon Cornthwaite

Brandon Cornthwaite
Brandon Cornthwaite is a highly engaged ISA leader living in Calgary, Alberta. He currently serves as the ISA Vice President-Elect for District 10. He is the immediate past President of the ISA Calgary Section, serving from June 2014 to June 2015. Cornthwaite is the Senior Technical Sales Representative at Calgary-based Tundra Process Solutions, which specializes in instrumentation & controls, boilers & steam generation, water treatment, motors & drives, valves & actuation, artificial lift, panels & buildings, truck offloading, and train loading.

Please provide me with some general information about yourself, like your current ISA involvement, current job position, etc.

My job title is Senior Technical Sales Representative at Tundra Process Solutions, which is based in Calgary, Alberta—known to many of my friends south of us as The Great White North. (Note: Tundra Process Solutions is a diversified company that develops solutions for industrial, light industrial, and commercial process applications.) Within ISA, I currently serve as the Vice President-Elect for District 10, which will likely merge with District 9 once the new geographical boundaries have been approved and agreed on. From June of 2014 to June of 2015, I served as President of ISA’s Calgary Section.

In my personal time, I am avid cyclist. I used to race as an elite rider. The Tour de France is still one of my favorite sporting events. Growing up in South Africa, the only ice we had was in our freezer. Rugby is one of my great passions. I’m still warming up to the forward-passing game that’s just a big part of football in North America. Another great passion is motor sports. I have raced Motocross and I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven a few sports cars.

Please give us some background on your education (degree/s received and when) and how and why you became interested in a career in automation.

It’s hard to believe that when I was in high school, the subjects that I chose were math, physics, accounting and business economics. After my time in the military, I gravitated to automation and instrumentation. I joined Alusaf (an aluminum plant) in South Africa and completed an apprenticeship with them. I passed my trade test with distinction, receiving my Red Seal. Automation has always intrigued me for the reason that it can be used in so many different market sectors and in our everyday life. Of course, I have used automation in the industrial marketplace. But it’s also quite prevalent in motor sports, where it’s essential to get real-time data and information on the vehicle as they are driven. For me, automation has given me the opportunity to work on and experience a large variety of processes and operations. It’s given me the chance to work and engage with many different people around the world. It’s been a great opportunity to interact with and learn from other cultures and build respect among colleagues and peers.

How would you say ISA has benefited you?

Coming to Canada and having no family around me, I basically had to start from scratch. No one knew me personally or about my capabilities and achievements.  Since joining ISA, I have had the opportunity to grow my professional network and make some lifelong friends in the process. ISA has given me the chance to grow as a professional through leadership and mentors. My attendance at technical events and leadership conferences has enabled me to engage with other experts from around the world, sharing ideas and perspectives.  I value access to ISA standards and white papers as they keep me on the cutting edge and abreast of new technologies and practices for the various market sectors and industries I serve. I thank ISA and its members for being accepting me for who I am and providing me with the tools and guidance to keep me continually learning and growing.

What advice would you give to other young professionals entering the automation profession?

Keep an open mind. Learn from your mistakes as we all make them. Find a mentor you can rely on. And last, but certainly not least, join ISA. It’s a great way to network with colleagues and make friends.