Building the future with leadership
Techint Engineering & Construction engineers Victoria Ferreiro, Mercedes Nakamura and Rosis Alejandra Torres are three women who have carved out their leadership roles with consistency and dedication. Today, they motivate and inspire new generations to learn, project themselves and advance in the industry.
There are many women working, training, and pursuing a path of professional development to progress in their industry, and similarly, many of them occupy leadership positions in the engineering and construction sector. Victoria Ferreiro is Head of Design of Engineering Offers, Mercedes Nakamura is the Engineering Coordinator for Projects in Execution, and Rosis Alejandra Torres is the Head of Design at Piping Neuquén. In this article, they share their experience of work at Techint E&C.
“It was good to see when I started that a woman had already made it!” highlights Victoria, a chemical engineer who joined the company in 2005 with the Young Professionals program (JP in Spanish). When she joined the company, she had an “excellent female boss (Marcela Soto) who helped me to envisage my future projection.” From the beginning, Victoria worked in the Process Engineering area, where she passed through all stages of professional development (from junior to senior and finally Specialty Leader). She remembers the Camisea project (Peru) as one of her first experiences, working on a “Task Force”, a group of people all located on the same floor of the Belgrano building. “Then there were many projects, each one different from the next, where I was really lucky to be able to learn so much.” Since 2019, she has been working in the Engineering Offers area, "also under a female manager, Diana Balaguer, from whom I learn new things every day", because "the training is always present and constant".
Mercedes, a civil engineer who began her career at Techint E&C as a Young Professional in 2004, has spent most of her career working in the civil design department, specifically in concrete. She’s taken part in mining projects, laying electrical transmission lines and doing works for the oil & gas industry, both upstream and downstream, as well as for greenfield projects and revamping initiatives. A year and a half ago, she moved to the Projects in Execution department managing ongoing projects, where she coordinates engineering work and helps to draw up offers for different initiatives. “The company offers many possibilities and sectors that one can move to. Today, people joining the company have closer contact with management or in-house experts, for example, through the mentoring program, where they can speak with people in higher positions. This enables them to understand the breadth of experience to be gained, their own projection, and appreciate that the company offers great possibilities,” she says.
Both Mercedes and Victoria have taken part in leadership training courses. “People naturally tend to look upward, waiting for other people to give, provide, encourage, motivate or congratulate. When you reach a leadership position, you have to give those you’re in charge of what you expected to receive when you were in their place. When you understand this, it’s like a turning point. These are issues that one must bear in mind as one grows in the organization,” comments Mercedes.
Victoria adds that, “We can start to change the way we handle ourselves. For example, giving feedback at the right time so that others can take action and start doing things differently, or to be able to exchange opinions. It’s really important to manage our resources properly, not just from an administrative perspective, but also from a personal one.”
Alejandra confesses that, “working at Techint is a dream come true.” She’s a mechanical engineer who specializes in piping. Born in Venezuela, she arrived in Argentina in 2018, driven by the desire to progress and the firm idea of joining the Techint Group, where she had carried out her internship 15 years earlier, in her own country, before the process to nationalize Sidor. Finally, a year after arriving in Argentina, she was able to join the company, and was one of the first people to set foot in the Neuquén offices, where she worked on the end stages of the Fortín de Piedra, Los Toldos and Oldelval projects, among others.
CHANGES ON THE HORIZON
“Being the only woman in a meeting of 15 people was something I found a little off-putting the first time around, as well as the second and the third times, and then I just got used to it,” recalls Victoria. However, little by little, changes have been taking place. For example during the PowerFormer, Mercedes remembers that, “we sat around a table where we were all women specialty heads,” in reference to a project from 2019 where she found herself working with Victoria.
Alejandra comments that at first, it was quite challenging to lead a men-only team, but over time she learned to handle this successfully. “At Techint, there are some wonderful people who adapt very well and respect our company culture, who respect us as women and as leaders, and treat us equally, regardless of who we are, how we dress or speak, and where we come from. I can feel that this culture has become quite ingrained.” She adds that, “I really value having a female manager (Diana Dulsan). Seeing how she’s been able to grow within the company is a real inspiration,” she says.
THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT
Another challenge that Alejandra had to overcome had to do with language. “The idioms and words people use in Argentina are quite different from what I was used to. For example, in Venezuela we talk about 'tubes’, whereas here they say 'pipes’. There are several examples,” she observes. This represented a real challenge for her, as, “Sometimes I felt afraid or embarrassed to say things the way I wanted to say them, and then I felt self-conscious, until the moment came when I said: 'No, enough! The language of engineering is universal, and I can make myself understood perfectly well.' Only then did I begin to let go and today, all of that lies in the past!” she recalls.
TIPS FOR NEW GENERATIONS
For the younger people joining the company, Mercedes recommends, “don’t just complain, take action!” And, she emphasizes that, “you need to turn your negative point of view into something that’s positive for you and those around you, for everyone. We all have to change, correct things and continue growing.”
Meanwhile, Victoria believes that “it’s important to take control of your own development,” and that if people feel that they don’t have enough responsibility, “you should speak up and ask for more.” “If you notice that the area you’re in or the type of project you’re working on aren’t what you like best, it’s important to be able to ask for a change. This doesn’t mean that it will be resolved immediately, but with some patience, it will probably be taken into account for the next project,” advises the engineer.