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A better world through a systems approach

Interview with James Towers, ASEP

Courtney Wright

Sep 09, 2021

SEP Interview 2021 - James Towers photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

Q1: Describe your current position/role.

I’m a Systems Engineering consultant specializing in Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). I help organizations introduce or improve their MBSE capability through advice, training, and mentoring.

Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

I was proud to be granted the status of Charted Engineer in 2015. In the UK anyone can call themselves an Engineer, but Charted Engineer is a reserved professional title for which you must prove you have the required competencies. Another proud moment was the publication of my first book, “Don’t Panic! The Absolute Beginners Guide to Architecture Frameworks” which I co-authored with a colleague. Obviously, I was also honored to be awarded ASEP status.

Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

Explaining what Systems Engineering is, and more specifically what MBSE is and its benefits.

Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

Asses your competence (there’s a framework for that!), set annual goals, make them realistic and achievable, review regularly and just keep improving.

Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

I read Insight and other SE publications, I attend conferences and I participate in INCOSE Working Groups. I also research and write books and conference papers – I’ve won the ‘Best Paper Award’ at the INCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference (ASEC) on two occasions.

Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

I’m currently writing a second book and working towards CSEP. I review my professional development objectives every year so will be aiming for something new in 2022.

Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

We got a new puppy in 2020 so currently all my spare time is taken up with dog walking. Prior to the pandemic I enjoyed attending live comedy and music so I hope to get back to those soon.

Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

I wanted to be able to demonstrate my competence in Systems Engineering as part of my continuing professional development.

Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

The process has made me more knowledgeable in areas of SE which previously I hadn’t been involved in via my role, and also gives me credibility as an SE consultant.

Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

There are still some Systems Engineers who think MBSE doesn’t or can’t work

Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

I’ve been a “Control Systems Engineer”, “Member of Scientific Staff”, “Software Architect” and “Business Analyst”. I’m currently also an “Author” and “Visiting Lecturer”.

Q12: Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

Only that I encourage any Systems Engineer who hasn’t yet started to pursue SEP certification.

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