“If you don't know how to do something, you have to learn how. If you do know how to do it, then you have to do it better!”
Diana Encarnación's career switched completely when she went from her role as a technician to providing remote assistance to project coordination in another country. Here she shares with us what her main challenges were, and how she juggled these with her personal plans.
Diana Encarnación is an Electronics Engineer working at Techint Engineering & Construction. She’s currently based in Ecuador, where she’s working on the Engineering coordination being provided from Buenos Aires, Argentina- to the Collahuasi project (known as C20+) in Chile. Back when she was a teenager, she had a passion for wiring and spent hours fiddling around on breadboards, a construction base used to build semi-permanent prototypes of electronic circuits. Obviously, she was 100% convinced that her destiny lay in her vocation. Here, she tells us about the professional and personal challenges of working remotely, and how the company has supported her personal plans.
Tell us about your professional training
I studied Electronics and Control Engineering in Quito (Ecuador) at the National Polytechnic School. In high school, at the Hipatia Cárdenas, I took the Physics-Math option, which included basic electronics, as I liked connecting resistors and wiring, and playing with the breadboard. It was a technical girls' school, which was extremely innovative for the time, and I’m immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to study there.
How did you join Techint E&C?
I started work at the technical office (Engineering) at the Auca field in 2018. I knew some of my colleagues from a previous job, so I fitted in quite quickly. I just had to adapt to the company's standards and procedures. I soon ended up feeling right at home, there was lots of camaraderie, with no differences between men and women.
Two months after being there, my boyfriend proposed to me as we’d been in a long relationship, so we set a date for the following year. I was over the moon with my engagement but at the same time, I felt torn because I’d accepted a job in the field. As time passed, I felt increasingly that I would have to resign because of my personal plans, but when I talked to my bosses Pablo Elsesser and José Silva, Pablo immediately asked me, "Why do you need to do this? We have to find a solution!" And so they did!
I was delighted when they told me that Gabriel Martinez and Neydi Ñiacasha had agreed to my joining the Quito Engineering group, and in February 2019, I started work with the team and quickly fitted right in.
How was your move to C20+ and how did you experience the change in role?
During the pandemic, our family grew. We had a baby, who is now 18 months old. We’ve managed to get along quite well because my husband is also a design engineer and he understands what the pace of work is like, so if one of us has a meeting, the other looks after our little girl.
After maternity leave, I returned to work and started providing support for certain technical tasks. When my boss Neydi asked me to help with the coordination area, I accepted, but with some trepidation because of my lack of experience in that field. As a technician, I’d only focused on my chosen area, which was Instrumentation and control, so I hadn’t had a chance to see the macro side of the projects, or to work in customer relations and with internal and external suppliers.
When Gabriel Martínez told me about the C20+ project and its size, I felt excited and scared at the same time, because this was my first time coordinating such a large-scale project. So I told myself: “If you don't know how to do something, you have to learn how. If you do know how to do it, then you have to do it better!”
The first challenge was to adapt to the schedule and timing, because of the two-hour time difference between Argentina and Chile. Then I had to learn new terminology for the work in these two countries. It’s a great learning experience to see my current boss, Javier Veleizán, the Engineering Manager, in action when he’s taking decisions because he has a good idea of the bigger picture and continuously interacts with all the project areas.
Currently, I’m providing support for project coordination. My responsibility is to handle everything to do with the interaction between disciplines, supplies, contracts, internal meetings, and the customer, for instance. I manage and record any changes requested by the customer, which requires constant communication with each discipline and the contract area. It’s really gratifying to have been considered for a project of this size, and I’m learning a lot from it!
What recommendations would you give to a woman who wants to study engineering and/or embark on a professional career like the one you have?
I’d tell her to believe in herself, in what she wants and what she’s going to achieve. People can be as supportive as you need them to be, but if in the end you don't believe in yourself, there’s not much that can be done about that. Also, you need to keep going, whatever the obstacles, because in the end it’s about the conviction which drove you to take the decision to start, and you have to see it through.
If you want to choose a technical career, do it with passion and vocation, but not just to make other people happy. In the end, it’s your life and you have to decide what you’re going to with it. When you don't like your job, you just do what you're told; but when you do like it, you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re always on the lookout to see what you can do to help and contribute!
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