Carlos Haro: getting to grips with the Ferrari of the construction world
Shushufindi's quality manager, who’s better known as the man with a solution for everything, compares Techint to a top-end vehicle, and lives every minute of his work to the full, likening it to a journey chock-full of adrenaline, challenges and learning.
“Techint is actually just like a Ferrari: it’s a complete machine where everything works in perfect order. Professionals who join the company enter a different world, it’s a journey where every inch of their potential is put to the test to tackle different challenges. We’re given all the tools we need to continue training. It's a constant adrenaline rush on an amazing trip, one that’s incredibly fast and demanding,” explains Carlos Haro, proudly.
Shushufindi's quality manager is fond of making this analogy between the company and the Formula 1 team, as for him, these years working at Techint E&C have been a journey of such growth and development that any professional would be proud to do. And it makes sense to use such an impressive machine and keep it running to perfection.
“It really inspires to me get my hands on this gorgeous vehicle, to be able to use it and take it to the point where its level of perfection glows,” says Carlos, who defines himself as the “camshaft”, a vital part of the engine, which gives it speed and synchronizes operations for a smooth ride.
Born in Píllaro, Ecuador, this 37-year-old mechanical engineer has developed his entire career in the oil business in the East. He joined the company six years ago, after working in similar companies for ten years.
As the eldest of three brothers, Carlos was the head of the family, so he also made sure his brothers got an education and helped them to finish their studies: today, one is a doctor while the other is a chef.
He joined Techint to work as piping supervisor and swiftly moved up through the ranks to become the project manager at Shushufindi. He claims that it’s thanks to his previous experience that he was able to rise so fast, as he was able to take challenges in his stride, confident of which door to knock on when it came to getting things done.
The task he was assigned in Block 12 in Kamana, province of Orellana, was a great opportunity for him to shine on his own merits, in charge of a small group of workers for a key project.
“I was rather an unknown quantity for Techint initially, but I was able to show them how I work, and today I’m part of the family,” says Carlos, who loves the great outdoors, exploring and learning new things.
Block 12 lies in northern Ecuador, on the edge of the rainforest and can only be accessed by water, in a flat-bottomed boat, an eight-hour journey. That’s where Carlos embarked upon his ‘oil journey’ which entailed twenty-two days of onsite work, and eight days off.
After closing that project, he returned to Block 57 in Shushufindi, where he spent almost a year as a supervisor, overseeing various projects until his return to Kamana to install three service pumps. This happened in the middle of December and was a tough time because nobody was willing to take on that challenge. Eight fully-loaded vehicles had to be brought in so that they could meet the deadline set by the customer.
“There was no forecast to speak of, there were supply delays and scheduling issues, we couldn't get the right supervisor, so it was up to me to take care of everything. I was running the whole show, as construction manager and quality supervisor, I was a ‘one-man-band’! I was lucky enough to have the full support of the engineer Jorge Losada, who made sure we got everything necessary to overcome this considerable challenge,” recalls Carlos. And indeed, they did, against all odds: the project was delivered on time and met the requisite high standards of quality and safety.
After this adventure, he returned to Block 57 to work as the head of the quality area. Carlos recognizes that “This was the best promotion I could have wished for. I felt valued and recognized. Position and challenges are the best rewards for effort. Now, I’d really like to make it to a management role: I know there’s a long way to go, but you have to dream big!”
Carlos defines ‘quality’ as "finding the solution within the standards, using existing resources, making the most of your friendships." One of his functions involves acting as an internal auditor of the company. His team is responsible for ensuring that the project follows the parameters of international standards, ticking all the boxes to make sure it’s delivered to order, so that there are no problems.
With pride, Carlos says that his team is a group of seven excellent professionals, capable of solving all the kinds of problems they are thrown during their work and supporting each other to make sure there are no deviations in quality.
“Working in a group ensures I work as well as possible. These guys work exclusively on-site, every day. When they see deviations, they correct and explain, they support and teach people. It’s hard but extremely necessary work, which has to be done properly so that employees can learn how to work with Techint's 'know-how',” points out Carlos.
Generally, the difficulties they encounter have to do with logistics and timing, so they collaborate with the people on the construction site by giving support to the operations as a whole. And when things go off course, Carlos admits that this is a matter of concern, but you always have to be honest with the customer, own up to your mistakes, solve them and move on.
“We are still in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s hard for suppliers to send us the materials. On one occasion, we didn’t have enough pipe coating paint in stock. With the people in charge of this area, we moved heaven and earth to make sure we got it on time, and to get the approvals from the customer. One of them thought that if we didn’t have these materials, work would have to stop. But, as colleagues in the field always say: 'Carlos has the answers’. We did have a solution, it was the ace up our sleeve, and we found the paint which could be used immediately,” he recounts.
This attitude is not limited to work, as quality is a pillar of Carlos's life. “A while ago I was buying a car, and I checked everything. And it so happened that I found flaws in the paintwork so I had to return it. Obviously, I used quality discipline to check the standard of the product I was getting,” he says.
"I always talk to people to give them confidence, to ensure they feel relaxed and calm and see me as an ally. And sometimes I get serious about stuff which is supposed to be fun, to annoy them," jokes Carlos, adding that, "at the end of the day, my strength is the focus I give to doing something, that’s my signature: I sign it with my name, with a deadline and that’s what I fulfill.”
Carlos explains that these dialogues are part of an underlying plan to ensure quality at all levels, as it’s a way of exchanging views about criteria and of solving problems. It’s also a way of transmitting knowledge, teaching, and sharing know-how. “At the worksite, there are often activities that seem impossible to carry out, until we get going and focus on making each thing happen as intended.”
“One day we decided to bring in a supplier, although it was all very complicated. This supplier asked me if it was possible to train personnel to do hydrostatic testing with a certificate and I said that yes, it was possible. I sweated hot and cold every day until it happened because my boss had already told his boss that the training was happening from day one.”
For Carlos, the point of departure is always to give a positive answer, with confidence and respect. His colleagues like to say that he made the warehouse his domain, as he got involved from the beginning to find out the uses of each piece so as to be able to offer the customer the ‘ABCD of materials’. "There’s always a solution to be found," he says.
Using imagination, creativity, and innovation is a given for Carlos. With his workgroup, they dedicated themselves to reviewing the functions of the hydrostatic testing cabin, a tool that many thoughts was unnecessary. But they proved its worth and today it’s considered essential protection equipment.
“You know that cage that divers use when they want to observe sharks up close? Well, ours is very similar. When we carry out hydrostatic testing, we’re very exposed to water pressure: in a pipe this is as much as 3,300 psi. Our body is exposed, it’s just a bag of meat and bones that could be crushed by the impact if things go wrong. So actually, doing a hydrostatic test is like sitting next to a ticking time bomb. What I did was make a cage to protect people carrying out this activity to make sure they could do so safely,” affirms Carlos.
The infamous Creole smarts are not part of Carlos’s style. "I am a Pillareño, and here in the East, they call us Caterpillars, like those large ponderous digging machines, because we are good, reliable workers, who always complete their task on time."
It was when he was still living in Píllaro, a canton in the province of Tungurahua, that Carlos got his first job. He’d just graduated, he was twenty-three years old, and to get a job in the East you had to have years of experience. One day, someone told him that they were looking for personnel in the capital, so with his resumé in a folder under his arm, he traveled to Quito and stopped at the entrance to chat to the doorman. As he was entering the building to drop off his folder, the head of Human Resources was walking by and spotted him by chance, and asked: "Are you here for quality control?" Quick as a flash, Carlos answered yes, although with some trepidation as he was short of the few years stipulated as part of the requirements. The head of Human Resources checked out his resumé. The number of the citizenship card caught his attention.
“Are you from Píllaro?” he asked.
"Yes," Carlos replied.
“Ah, my wife is from there,” answered the executive with a twinkle in his eye. He went on to say that, “Whenever you come up against a challenge lying in your path, accept it and overcome it. You should start work with us and find out what you’re supposed to do, because you can’t afford to make me look bad!” And Carlos was accepted for the position on the spot and turned up for work the very next day.
Among the things that Carlos has learned in these over fifteen years in the profession, is that your word counts for a great deal, that honor and punctuality are critically important, and that there is no place for duplicitous behavior.
“In another company, a colleague falsified documents that I’d had legalized and almost made me lose my job. But as they say, what goes around, comes around. I reviewed all the documentation, found copies of the original showing what I’d done, and was able to expose him and clear my name. I learned that you can’t always trust people, even though this is not a particularly nice thing to believe. But I felt so disillusioned, and, above all, unfairly discredited. Luckily, I was able to clear my honor, and ensure my resumé was spotless. And thankfully, the company did not lose faith in me and supported me throughout,” says Carlos.
When you enjoy your work, and there’s a good group of people behind each activity, it shows in the way the work moves forward. Carlos has made many friends at Techint. He has a group of mates he plays cards with, and they get together to cook meals and go cycling—a new activity for him!
“I am at that sweet spot of being able to build my future, whether it’s as a quality manager or supervisor, or if they promote me to being a preventionist. The issue is to be fully involved in this process. Seeing how something is created from scratch and grows, being a part of it by doing your bit, is a priceless opportunity,” says Carlos.