Tribute to Paul Soteriou

31 August 2020 News

A great man, that I had known for over 27 years, has gone silent. Memories of our times together come flowing and I could not have comprehended that it would be this way. He was a very good man who I was honoured to know. Simple in his approach to life with a very gentle heart, he never wanted to see the suffering of another human being.

A great man, that I had known for over 27 years, has gone silent. Memories of our times together come flowing and I could not have comprehended that it would be this way. He was a very good man who I was honoured to know. Simple in his approach to life with a very gentle heart, he never wanted to see the suffering of another human being.

This man was always willing to share what he had with a smile, he had a deep-found love for South Africa but remained very proud of his native country, Cyprus.

I will never forget on the 18th of July when, around lunch time, a message came through that this great man had passed on. I immediately felt weak and helpless. The idea of never seeing him again, or hearing his voice, overwhelmed me. How could this be? The man who crafted my art and shared his wisdom with me over so many years, was gone. As the month of July has come and gone, it passed with great sadness in the electronics industry.

Paul Soteriou.

One of the great minds of our era has passed on. Pavlos Soteriou, or Paul as I got to know him, has left us and our industry – an engineer by profession and a very good one at that. Our industry is much poorer without his wisdom and intellect. His contribution cannot be measured or equalled to anything – always willing to share his knowledge and not afraid to try and develop new things to the advancement of the industry.

I remember very well, about 27 years ago when I met him at Ash Electronics Industries. He was busy developing a new split meter to measure electric consumption in houses. He was very passionate about metering. I worked with Paul from the development stage until the meter was ready for mass production and he made sure that the production process was so well defined that at some stage I thought he was overdoing it, but he always worked towards perfection. At the time we had one of those Suzuki 1200 pick-and-place machines that were using mechanical chucks to accurately place the components.

The first smart meter in South Africa was designed by Paul, with the help of the other engineers at Intelligent Metering Systems (IMS), around 1997-1998. Those meters are still being utilised in Tembisa for revenue collection today, over 20 years later. This is testament to his sheer brilliance for engineering.

Paul and his team made smart meters fashionable. Those meters remain one of the best meters to be developed in our country. Unfortunately given how our country has been, they could never find a reason to install more of these meters, even though they were locally developed and to the benefit of the country and its economy. South Africa lost the intellectual property when it lost Paul.

Paul was a very good mathematician; I never saw him use a calculator in my life. He built his business, QEC Placements, from scratch and he was willing to see it succeed at all costs because he couldn’t bear the pain of seeing people losing their jobs when the industry in South Africa suffered. Paul went through difficult times, but his perseverance and beliefs pulled him and QEC Placements through. The sacrifices he personally made were even bigger than I could have ever imagined. If he believed in something he would pursue it no matter what, because that’s how he was.

In Paul’s last great project, he got involved in the digital television migration programme in South Africa. Paul, together with QEC, was at the forefront of locally designing and manufacturing antennas. His company supplied and finished its allocation of 500 000 units in record time. His locally developed and produced antenna remains in the field as a faultless product today.

His company should have been recognised for pioneering local products during the time when chancers and thieves took over the whole project. He stood firm and true to his word of creating employment opportunities for the youth of Diepsloot and Zandspruit and did what he could to save the jobs he created.

He left a legacy that I wish I knew how I could carry forward. He might be gone but his contribution will continue to speak volumes in our industry.

To his three daughters, QEC Placement staff, friends, family and his extended family at the Hellenic Cyprus Brotherhood Club, be proud of his legacy. He was one of the rare individuals who never looked for glory or recognition in what he was doing. He was a humble man, generous in his approach, and a gentle soul.

Paul, I will always miss our catch-up times at Food Lover’s Market at Park Meadows. The smiles you always portrayed even when it was hard to smile. The profound sadness of your absence in my life will always linger.

You have run your race, my friend, and I believe you completed it successfully.

Rest in eternal peace. Till we meet again.

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