Celebrating our people: Francis Ji reflects on 25 years of service with ABB

Celebrating a milestone of 25 years with ABB, Francis Ji talks about what motivates him in his work as a senior engineer in the PAPI services division and why he is happy to call Australia home.

What does your job involve?
I work in the services division for ABB Process Industries (PI), which is the division where we build and support industrial automation systems. While our division supports a variety of industries, my core focus and niche area has been in Pulp and Paper. In particular, setting up and supporting the Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and Quality Control Systems (QCS) required in pulp and paper mills. I’ve set up systems for several mills and have worked on systems at 35 to 40 different pulp and paper mills in the Asia-Pacific region.

What motivates you in your work?
Since my work is in systems and services, it is centred on people. The relationship with the customer is key to the success of any services project. I get deep satisfaction in problem solving and working with people to build a system that truly meets their needs and resolves their issues. Also, the culture at ABB is unique and I feel privileged to work with such a diverse team of engineers from around the world. It is very much an inclusive environment where we collaborate as a team. Ultimately, I would say teamwork and collaboration keep me personally and professionally motivated because people are at the heart of my work.

Did you imagine this career path as a student?
I didn’t necessarily imagine the career I have now but I’m happy with where the opportunities have led me. I studied computer science at university with a focus on software. I first started in a brewery company, then went on to work at the First paper and the Nine Dragons Paper mills in an automation manager role. That’s when I became acquainted with ABB, and they later offered me an automation engineering job. I started with ABB China in 1997, then moved to Singapore with ABB in 2002, then Australia in 2004.

A quarter of a century with ABB – did you want to reflect on what’s kept you with the company?
I feel like family is the right word to use because the working environment is very supportive. There is genuine support to help you reach your potential. For me, I moved away from a management role in a large paper mill to an engineering role with ABB. It suits me because I love working with customers to provide value-added services together. That’s what my job involves. Recently, we successfully replaced a 3rd party control system with ABB fully integrated 800xA system in a very short period for one of our key Tissue mill customers who is truly happy with our systems and services. We also had some great feedback from one of the largest pulp and paper mills in the Asia Pacific region that we “were at the top of our game”. That brings me great satisfaction.

Is Australia home?
Yes. I’ve worked in about 13 or 14 countries. I can’t keep count! But what I love about Australia, is the strong sense of egalitarianism that I feel here and haven’t felt anywhere else. I remember once I had to go out to Townsville in Queensland and my hired car got a flat tyre. I hadn’t been in Australia for too long. A bikie pulled over and he helped me – not only did he change the tyre, but he showed me how to do it. I wanted to offer something to him but he just said “no worries mate, you take it easy.” That is an example of how I think Australians are in general. They want to help, to offer friendship, and they want to give you a “fair go”. That’s what I really love and I’m happy to call Australia home.

Reflections from Thomas Stur ABB Australia PAPI Service Manager – Engineers are the backbone of our control system business, and Francis epitomises what it is to be both a technical expert and brand ambassador. Francis knows ABB’s control system products inside and out, is extremely customer centric and takes the utmost of pride in his work.

It is an honour to be Francis’ manager – if ever he works with a new customer, I can be confident that they are going to ask for him back by name.

Reflections from Customer Queensland Tissue Products Lead Engineer, Alex Wang – Queensland Tissue Products has rebuilt two state of art paper machines with ABB including DCS & QCS system. We found Francis is an excellent engineer who not only offer professional service, but willing to go beyond and work extra mile to satisfy customer requirement. Each rebuild contains unique challenges and Francis has demonstrate excellent problem-solving skills, can-do attitude and gives us confidence that he will be able to deal with the problems we faced during the project.

Picture above from left to right: QTP Production Manager: David Liang; QTP Director: Desmond Lau; QTP Project Manager: Liping Wang; ABB Senior Engineer: Francis Ji; ABB Senior Engineer: Sam Yang; QTP Lead Engineer: Alex Wang.

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Natasha Hooper

Communications Manager – Country & Process Automation
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