April 2023 Employee Spotlight - Ajit Gunjal, Digital Buildings Technical Project Manager
Apr 25, 2023

April 2023 Employee Spotlight - Ajit Gunjal, Digital Buildings Technical Project Manager

Vivek Mittal

Facility Performance Consulting recently sat down with Ajit Gunjal, one of our highly skilled Digital Building Consultants in the Americas team, to discuss all things work and non-work. Ajit is a building automation and controls expert who manages the technical aspects of multiple projects in a global program for a large tech client in the Americas regions.

Please summarize your professional career journey so far, and how this has helped shape you into the professional that you are today?

As a fresh graduate out of engineering college, when I went to Cipla, Goa for an interview, I had confidence that this would be a great start and learning curve in the field of instrumentation.  As a maintenance engineer at this pharmaceutical giant, I was responsible for the BMS plant which had pneumatic PID controllers for pressure control in the manufacturing area and DDCs for temperature and humidity. I was fortunate to go through the full cycle of installation, operational & performance qualifications required in the pharmaceutical environment. When I moved into JCI as a project design engineer, it was the standards & processes put in place that helped shape my quality deliverables. It was a perfect environment for any young engineer which helped my professional growth and also gave me an opportunity to visit Ottawa, Canada which I call home now. As to understand field issues and challenges I changed my profile from design to field install and commissioning during my stopover with Honeywell. I was able to visit many cities in states for projects and enrich my experience working on the honeywell product lines including Alerton, Trend and Tridium.

As marriage and kids settled me in Ottawa, Canada, I had my second stint with JCI and subsequent PM role with Automated Logic. By the time I was introduced to the world of consulting through FPC, I had accumulated 16 years of experience  in the field of controls.

How do you see the future evolving for the Digital Buildings professional and industry as a whole?

The increasing use of sensors, IoT devices, and artificial intelligence in buildings will drive the growth of smart buildings. These structures are designed to be more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and provide a better user experience. Overall, the future of digital buildings and the industries that support them is likely to be driven by advances in technology, sustainability concerns, and changing user expectations.

Smart buildings professionals will need to have a deep understanding of these technologies and how to integrate them into buildings.

What is it that you really enjoy about working at FPC?

The family culture, when I look back to judge where I enjoyed my work the most, is with my time in CoEE and similarly in FPC. We spend more than half of our conscious time in the workplace before retirement. And it’s very important to have a healthy and enjoyable workspace in between the work stress and deadline pressure for mental health of the employees. I certainly find the culture here is quite caring towards the well being of the employees and sets apart the company from the rest.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you that is non-work related?

As COVID forced video calls as part of our daily life, I am able to use this for an interesting avenue.

Before COVID, I used to volunteer to read Marathi language story books for kids during weekend language school.  During COVID, one of my kid’s close friends made a video call during the evening hours when I was reading this historical book to my kids. Unintentionally it continued the next day and onwards and converted into an online reading group where we have 20 plus Marathi speaking families. Each week we rotate the family who reads kids stories including history figures, shivaji, vikram vetal books to keep the language alive.

Who inspires you?

Throughout my career, I was fortunate to work with great team leaders and managers. Especially the very talented and hardworking lead from ALC named Dwayne Black. He had great work ethics and had a real impact on me. Within the last year, I truly admired Maryam for her management skills whereas I have immense regards towards James Atkins as a wonderful leader with clarity of thoughts and ready solutions.

These are some of the wonderful individuals who I had learned a lot from and who inspire me. In case I have to name only one, I would like to pick JadhavG who I have witnessed phenomenal growth over the years, especially coming from a humble background which is truly inspiring to anyone.

How do you like to start and end your day?

I do like to see my kids first thing in the morning and wake them up. I will be honest, as my later part of the mornings are chaotic to get them ready for the school. In the night, If i don’t fall asleep along with kids, i do like to watch hockey or recorded IPL games.

What’s the one thing you are learning now or learned recently?

Alright, I will have a couple of things to share. I ended up taking skiing lessons a couple of years ago along with my older son. Which is our go to activity twice a week during winter months. Also, I was able to provide volunteer skiing lessons to 5-6 kids from the neighborhood. 

Since Jan 2023 another thing I have been trying ( again due to my kid) is Guitar classes. I have been trying hard to catch up with my son but it’s been quite an uphill battle.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to and why?

Positive attitude and risk taking. I have a strong belief that nothing is impossible in any field. Whereas greater pressure brings the best out of you as long as you don’t give up. 

What led you to this career?

It all started in the summer of 2001 when one of my family friends suggested I check out this new Bachelor program called Instrumentation & Controls. As a typical teenager with no clarity after grade 12, I was at-least certain that I didn't want to join software engineering. Thus how I got into this uncommon field of automation & engineering. 

What is the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

This was from my grandfather when I was preparing for grade 10 exams. I was about to back off due to less time I thought I had. My grandfather told me to put in the effort to revise one chapter at a time and go through the exam. “Never doubt your abilities” as long as you make a dedicated effort. Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes, as they can ultimately lead to success.

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