“We bear the “T” of Techint engraved on our hearts!”
Marcelo Quezada, currently the Project Manager (PM) at Los Bronces IV, takes just three words to sum up the company’s legacy in Chile: pride and loyalty. On this occasion, he shares some anecdotes from his professional life and talks about the key factors involved in successful team building.
Marcelo Quezada is always up against one challenge or another. As the Project Manager of Los Bronces IV in Chile, he is managing Techint Engineering & Cconstruction’s work to replace a 32-km stretch of the pipeline for their customer Anglo American. The pipeline runs from high up in the Andean mountain range to the Colina area in the Chacabuco sector, across mountains, over bridges and through tunnels.
Today, Marcelo is famous for his team-building skills. Yet just five years ago, when he was appointed PM for one of the first projects at Los Bronces in 2016, later called Los Bronces 2, he had only been with the company for a few years. “It was quite tough, I found it very hard going initially, sensing a fair bit of rejection in people’s offhand remarks and attitudes. But I dealt with it. I remember printing out the functions stipulated by the company for project managers, I gathered everyone together and distributed the list. I was crystal clear. I told them: the company has appointed me to carry out these functions, so that’s what I’m going to do. Anyone who has a problem with that can take it up with the General Manager and ask for a transfer. After that, the team settled down. When I took part in the first meetings with AAS, they were expecting the long-time Techint folk to put in an appearance. The AAS team didn’t know who I was. Today, it’s all very different, I have friends throughout the AAS and all of the companies that collaborate with them.”
Marcelo joined Techint E&C in 2013, as Construction Manager for the Minera Escondida water supply project with Bechtel, in the high-voltage area. Since then, he’s had to overcome a monumental number of challenges in the course of his career, as he recalls the pressure he was under on his first works project: coming up with a quick response as part of a critical enterprise for the company, the Minera Escondida Water Supply (EWS).
In one of those work meetings with the supervisors, a colleague said that in the future he’d be "a pipeline worker, and the first Chilean PM." At the time, the reference took him by surprise, but now he feels much more involved in this type of work.
For Quezada, onsite experience is a huge asset when it comes to training professionals. “At university, they simply don’t teach you all the stuff you learn in the field. This is why each new engineer who joins us has to pass through the Operations area, which is the core of our business. There are people who prefer to work from the office, but in this area, you absolutely have to go out into the field, as this experience gives you the edge you need to win the customer’s trust. And you learn how to do things better and avoid repeating mistakes.”
The five secrets of a Project Manager for successful team building
One of the fundamental variables guaranteeing a project’s success is good teamwork. Quezada says that to achieve this, you have to home in on five key aspects:
- Firstly, be clear about the mission, which is inevitably the project’s success. “To do this, you have to set goals which will allow you to achieve that objective, communicate them and share them clearly with the team, so that everyone is on the same page,” he says.
- Second, promote communication and respect. “It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable and that they can ask whatever they want. You always need to keep the doors open. I also like to share my personal experiences so that they can serve as shared learnings. And I never single out anyone for blame in front of the rest of the team, I always point mistakes out in private. The important thing is for people to feel motivated, to feel that they can and want to do better.”
- Third, source people with a good work attitude. “I always say I’m not looking for the best player, but for someone who’s honest and trustworthy. People with a good attitude can be trained and achieve excellent results thanks to the guidance of their leaders and peers. However, someone who feels superior to their colleagues and is individualistic can cause problems when they working as part of a team”.
- Fourth, there are two factors underpinning all our work processes: passion and commitment. “If things aren’t done with passion, they don’t last over time. And if there’s no commitment in this area, you won’t get very far. Passion and commitment are like salt and pepper, they’re what make our task worth it.
- Lastly, “it’s critically important to work together with our customer, as a team, staying close and understanding their needs and concerns. This is because ultimately, we’re all going in the same direction and we all share the same goal: ensuring the project’s success.”
An international Project Manager
In line with that philosophy, our unknown PM made his way up through the ranks and is today a respected and much-loved person throughout the continent. “Techint is a multicultural company, so you get to meet people from all around the world on a regular basis," he says, adding that “This is extremely enriching, because one finds out about different cultures and realities, and this gives you a different perspective on things. This is extremely valuable and adds an extra layer of significance to our projects. Thanks to these interactions, today I have close friends from Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.”
Marcelo points out that Techint E&C is highly valued in Chile. “People are fully committed to the company because working at Techint is a source of pride for them. This is a company that offers everyone what they are seeking: opportunities for growth, challenges and recognition. It’s very significant when you realize most of the employees have been with the company for so many years. We all bear the “T” of Techint engraved on our hearts.”