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Midvale Journal

Decoding engineering and manufacturing careers, insights from Fortune Global 500 company manager

May 07, 2024 03:45PM ● By Julie Slama

Meet the Pro speaker Sergio Hirata shares with Hillcrest High students the role of engineering at Flex, a Fortune Global 500 company. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Flex offers a comprehensive portfolio of engineering and manufacturing solutions when customers need it—globally. 

That was a message that Flex Industrial Engineering Manager Sergio Hirata relayed to about 50 Hillcrest High students at the school’s recent Meet the Pro speaker series.

“We’re able to take a concept, a customer’s request of whatever they need, and deliver it the next day,” he said. “We have the capability to develop it and build it in one day.”

Hirata, who understands four languages, told students being multilingual is beneficial as it opens opportunities in the career at Flex, a Fortune Global 500 company.

“Before I graduated, I was already studying English and Spanish,” said Hirata, who’s native tongue is Portuguese. “This helped a lot to get my first job.”

Hirata has worked in manufacturing companies for 33 years and 26, in engineering. He first began as a maintenance engineer in 1997, then worked as a process engineer for three years in automotive companies. In 2001, he became an industrial engineer in the electronics industry.

In 2008, Hirata joined Flex in Brazil, working at two of the firm’s sites as an industrial engineer and business excellence manager. He moved to Salt Lake City in 2021 to help start the Flex operations in Utah where he was responsible for implementing industrial engineering and business excellence, which he now oversees.

Flex has more than 100 facilities in 30 countries, employing more than 170,000 workers. It manufactures for 16,000 suppliers worldwide.

“We work with some of the biggest brands in the world; some of them don’t have their own factory so they hire companies like Flex to manufacture for them. Some don’t even do their own product development so that’s another thing we do. Flex is No. 2 in the world, one of the biggest companies that manufacture big brands so any electronics you see in your car and house probably have something or the whole product was made by Flex,” he said.

It could be microphones to car headlights and taillights. In Salt Lake City, it’s servers.

“We build servers and deliver them to customers,” Hirata said. “I like the challenges in my job. What we are now facing is a different challenge because servers now are much heavier and bigger, so we need to rethink the whole process and the whole line to handle that. I like that it’s not the same thing every day and that there are challenges.”

He recommends high school students get a solid education in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

“We do a lot of calculations, so they need to be good at those. If they manage a project to introduce a new product, they need good communication skills and be able to handle different groups who work together in different areas of a project,” said Hirata, who also is speaking to college students about internships and open positions.

His talk covered Flex’s Salt Lake City area roles and responsibilities from program manager and production to process, product, test, quality and new product innovation engineering.

By sharing about those roles, Hirata hopes it will help students better understand engineering. 

“When students go to the university, they may choose to be an engineer, but they really don’t know what engineering is,” he said. “It’s not, ‘I’m going to develop a new process;’ it’s more than that. When you become an engineer, you have a lot of different fields you can work with so I wanted to show the students different engineering and what we can do and what they can choose from.”

Canyons School District Career and Technical Education Director Janet Goble said the Meet the Pro series is designed to give students a chance to widen their perspectives about professions.

“Students are able to ask questions to industry professionals to deepen their understanding of the careers,” she said. λ