Department of Engineering Science

Salah Al-Chanati

Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Engineering Science / Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) (2013)

Photograph of Salah Al-Chanati

Tactical Planning Analyst (2013)
Fonterra, Auckland


While trying to decide on my BE specialisation, I stumbled upon Maury Leyland’s profile on the department’s website. As an Engineering Science alumnus, she had a fantastic business career, which led her into Fonterra Co-operative Group. It was a career I personally wanted to aspire to and a company I wanted to work for in the future. So without any further due diligence, I followed in her footsteps, chose Engineering Science and never looked back.

Fast forward 3 years, to the end of 2012, I was fortunate enough to be employed by Fonterra. For 8 months, I took up the role as a Product Mix Optimisation Intern while I completed my final semester in operations research courses. During this time, I worked on identifying product mix opportunities from the products Fonterra had to offer to its customers, assisted in generating a fortnightly optimal demand and supply plan using an optimisation tool sourced from San Francisco, and focused on adding value to the products listed within the cream portfolio. I was even more fortunate to meet Maury in person and have multiple conversations with her about the Department of Engineering Science and the vast opportunities within Fonterra.

Now, I am on a 5-months secondment as a Tactical Planning Analyst within the Supply Planning team of NZ Milk Products – Optimisation. My main focus is to assist in generating the “One Plan”, a balanced, feasible plan from an optimisation, production planning and logistics planning perspective that protects, improves and ensures the delivery of shareholder value to New Zealand farmers.

In December 2013, I will commence my third role within Fonterra. Alongside 15-20 other graduates from New Zealand universities and abroad, I will join Fonterra’s 2-year Graduate Technical Programme (FGTP) and be supported by the Optimisation team. It is a programme designed for graduates who come from an engineering, food technology and/or science backgrounds.

In the first year, I will be studying towards Masters of Dairy Science and Technology, a masters degree broken down into three major components. In the first 3 months, I will be developing technical skills and expertise in the dairy industry through four factory placements across New Zealand. Later in the winter and for another 3 months, I will be based at the Fonterra Research Centre for course-related lectures, tutorials, practical work and project work. And in final 4 months, I will be completing an individual research project based on what I’ve learnt so far and tackling an optimisation-related problem. Then, in the second year, I will be immersed within the co-operative through two 6-months rotations, either in technical or commercial roles.

After the 2-year programme, I will return back to my Optimisation team as an Analyst who has a strong grasp and understanding of Fonterra’s complex manufacturing processes, providing commercial insights with a technical perspective to meet key stakeholders’ needs, and I will be working on activities that impact Fonterra on a day-to-day basis, impact the shareholder value of the farmers, and impact the New Zealand economy.