Member Q&A with Gil Souza

As the senior regional account manager at Hiter Controls, a Brazilian manufacturing company specializing in control valve technologies, Gil Souza directs and coordinates the company's technical sales initiatives and business development efforts. Within ISA, Souza currently serves as the District 4 vice president-elect and membership chairman of ISA's Curitiba Section.

 What initially attracted you to the field of automation?

I first got exposed to the automation world when I was studying at the university. I received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 1994. During this period, I received a scientific initiation scholarship to study artificial intelligence in process control in the university's automation systems laboratory. I found this new, avant-garde area inspiring. It is a wonderful area to be in; nothing is routine. Everything is always innovative.

 Please discuss your primary career responsibilities as well as your focus, background, and area of specialty in automation.

In my university research and in conjunction with the postgraduate program, I became very involved in automation and really enjoyed it. Every day offered a new challenge. When I graduated, I looked for opportunities in this area and ended up partnering with some friends who were starting a small company that focused on process control for agribusiness.

During this time, I was developing SCADA systems and PLC programming as a control system integrator. After that, I started an engineering office for a new company called Altus Automation, a Brazilian PLC manufacturer and system integrator. I worked on major oil and gas projects, particularly those focused on offshore process automation for Petrobras (a multi-national petroleum company headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.)

While managing several automation projects, I started working toward a master's degree in project management for automation projects, with a concentration in industrial automation. I finished my degree in 2001.

Next, I joined Siemens in the company's industrial automation division, where I worked on several large projects. Currently, I work as a senior regional account manager at Hiter Controls Engineering, a Brazilian control valve company (now part of the Spirax Sarco Group) that specializes in flow, pressure, and temperature control systems.

Could you briefly explain your current and past involvement as an ISA leader and volunteer?

I became involved in ISA's Curitiba Section in 2002. What initially attracted me were the technical events; they were so enriching and informative. It was a big step for me to be a part of a team of volunteers that helped organize some of these events, while helping other automation professionals learn and adopt best practices.

I have always been impressed by all the great resources that ISA provides in terms of technical education, automation standards, and publications. My experiences with ISA inspired me to get more involved in the Curitiba Section and helping to expand its professional sphere throughout Brazil. This led to efforts on the district level, specifically forming a group to lead ISA District 4 and becoming involved in the district board. Today, I'm proud to serve as ISA's District 4 vice president-elect.

How did you first become involved with ISA?

The best automation professionals I came across were always involved with ISA in some way. I began reading ISA technical articles and marveled at all the relevant topics covered in ISA journals and publications. I joined ISA in 2001. Shortly after that, I was invited by friends to join the board of the ISA Curitiba Section.

Are there specific ways your ISA membership has benefited you as an automation professional?

In today's business world, it is essential to stay connected with others. ISA creates so many opportunities to connect, learn, and network with other professionals. This is how you develop and grow your career.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for young automation professionals entering the profession?

Make ISA your main connection, and you will thrive. As an automation professional and member of ISA, you will make relevant connections that are best aligned with your specific goals and career development aspirations.

At the same time, you will learn through the experiences and wisdom of others. You get the chance to learn from a wide variety of automation professionals, all in one organization-which saves time, money, and effort.  If you have a problem, the solution may be found through the professional connections you have made at ISA.

This quote from Lyndon B. Johnson, former U.S. president, says it best:  "There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves."