Mariana Zalazar: “It's never too late to start on your to do list!”
After putting her professional life on standby for a while, Mariana Zalazar finally launched herself on her career path at the President Néstor Kirchner Gas Pipeline in Argentina. Here we tell you about her story.
Barely two years after she began, Mariana Zalazar had to drop out of her university studies, as her third daughter, Sofía, who is now 10 years old, was on the way. She already had Fausto and Álvaro, currently 16 and 12 respectively, to bring up, so she took the decision to stay home while they took their first steps in life.
But that didn't stop her.
After a few years, she went back to college and qualified as a Petroleum Technician from the Tertiary Level Educational Center 44 (CENT, in Spanish) in Catriel, in the province of Neuquén, Argentina. Two years ago, she began scouting for her first job. “It was only when I felt that the kids were older and were ready for me to go to work, that I plucked up the courage to start looking. First, I sent out resumes for oil projects, but then this opportunity landed on my doorstep from Techint Engineering & Construction, which is in fact the first company I've worked for.”
Mariana used to work as a Pointer on Line 1 of the PK-92 stretch of the GPNK, and she recalls how delighted she was to be doing this. “I believe that my background in oil enabled me to make a special contribution to this iconic construction project—to have been part of such an historic enterprise was an incredible experience.”
What was it like when you started at the project?
When I started, I was at PK-60, where the camp is, and I was working on the logistics phase. Then I moved on to roads and access, which is where we ensure that everything is “passable”. Our job was to ensure everything was ready in the trenching area, where the pipes would be laid.
I later joined PK-92 as part of the team building a pond with a backhoe, and I was also part of the drilling HDD phase, which was just being assembled. I remember when the machines were being loaded and I bumped into Alejandro Aguirre, Techint E&C’s Innovation Manager, who told me that they still didn't have a Pointer, and he asked me straight out if I was interested in the position. I told him that I was a Petroleum Technician and, since they were doing the drilling, he asked me to stay on and participate in that phase.
What position did you hold at the GPNK?
I was working as a Pointer, an administrative position carried out from the office. I was in charge of keeping records, managing staff papers, uploading work hours, processing travel tickets, that sort of thing.
In that phase of the construction project, there were many things related to what I’d studied that were super interesting for me, such as the specific pieces of machinery and tools required for each task. In addition, I was able to collaborate with the particular technical knowledge needed for certain input requirements, for example.
What does it feel like to have been part of this historic project?
Immensely proud! It’s such a huge project, as was very clear from the constant stream of visits of important figures, such as public officials and businessmen.
At the time, it was an opportunity that I never even dreamed of. Also, I felt really comfortable with this team of professionals, as they never had a problem sharing their knowledge with me. They were always eager to teach and help me. In addition, they valued having a woman on the project, and that felt very good. It obviously took a lot of effort to be away from my kids all day, but for me it paid off, and I really tried to make the most of the opportunity.
Looking back on your life, is there anything you would have done differently?
Sometimes I think that I could have started working earlier, but things turned out the way they did, and I’m very grateful. I think the most important thing I learned is that it's never too late to tackle your list of pending items!