“My legacy is to train people so that our preventive culture continues to evolve and grow”
Just days before his retirement, Omar Campos revisited his career at Techint Engineering & Construction, making a point of sharing his legacy and conveying his steadfast commitment to the company for which he’s worked for over 15 years.
With a career of over 15 years at Techint E&C, Omar Campos, Auditor of the Corporate Department of Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE), has decided to step aside and “make room for the younger generation.” With October 31 as his last day in the organization, he is nonetheless convinced that he’ll continue to be linked to this company that has “branded him with fire.”
“I am convinced that working cycles are getting shorter, and that makes me think that it’s time to take a step to one side, as it’s critically important for young people to be able to assume greater responsibilities. I’ve always believed this to be important, and now it’s my turn to do just that. So I’m leaving this place for others to occupy,” said Omar with conviction.
His history in the company began on July 1, 2008, after 22 years of working at DuPont, where he had collaborated in maintenance and engineering, as well as safety, environment and health. During much of his career at DuPont, he worked as a mechanical technician, but it so happened that one day he was offered the possibility to have an interview for a job at Techint E&C. That was when he decided to move away from a world with which he was extremely familiar, and tackled the challenge of changing industries.
“When I joined Techint, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about prevention. After being there for only a day, I realized that I had to learn a great more. I took a 'humility shower' and began, if not from scratch, certainly from quite a long way back, to understand how the company’s Integrated Management System (IMS) worked,” he confessed, as he recalled his first audit in Campana.
What does an auditor do?
True to type, as a great teacher—and before he bade farewell—Omar defined very simply what audits are about and what the role of the auditor is.
“Traditional audits, usually called 'first party', are internal audits. This is where a professional compares the reality of the projects against a specific parameter, which for us is the IMS. This is then matched against the ISO standards for which we are certified. What the internal auditor is doing is verifying that what you did was what you said you were going to do, and performs an evaluation on that basis,” he described.
Techint E&C has moved from a traditional audit to an evolved system, as Omar explained:. “In addition to doing these classic audits, we carry out other activities such as training supervisors, meeting customers, training our QHSE professionals, working in the field and checking any other additional documentation.”
He added that, “We’ve given training courses to over 350 auditors who are now in a position to go out and audit other projects using the same criteria. The idea is to make sure we take a uniform approach so that despite any differences, we are applying the same standards to what we see.”
It's never too late to study
Omar abandoned his studies as a Mechanical Engineer for personal reasons, as he puts it “a pending item” that he only managed to complete much later. “At one point I got my act together and in just two years I completed my degree course, graduating at the age of 44 from the Avellaneda Instituto Tecnólogico Nacional. I was really proud of that, because it was incredibly tough. Studying for a university degree while married, with two young daughters, and also having to travel for work was very difficult, but I managed it,” he said. And he added that he’s delighted with his profession, as he went on to take a postgraduate degree in Environmental Management and another in Hygiene and Safety.
Since joining the company, Omar has performed over 400 audits and held training courses at 140 projects. He’s traveled to 19 countries on four continents, visiting the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as various countries in South America, accompanied by over 100 employees from the QHSE department and other areas.
“Training is essential. I believe that my legacy is to train people to ensure that our preventive culture can grow and evolve. I believe we have achieved this. Furthermore, we must ensure rigor in everything we do, along with respect for one’s colleagues, as a good workplace environment is essential,” emphasized Omar.
There probably is not a single director or Project Manager whom Omar hasn't audited in his time, including current Techint E&C CEO Oscar Scarpari himself, during his time in Toromocho (Peru). “I know everyone and they know me. Sometimes the auditor's role is not as popular as one would like. But in my case, it’s been the opposite, the projects have accepted my role positively, and I always felt that they really make an effort to open their doors to me. My obligation as an auditor has been to encourage continuous improvement and be rigorous in compliance with the IMS, because the function of the QHSE department is crucial to avoiding accidents, which is our number one goal,” he indicated.
When closing an audit, Omar explained that he started off by highlighting what’s going well at the project, and only then addressed the areas of improvement based on the parameters established by the IMS, classifying his findings according to their criticality.
“I get very involved with the supervisors, who are the ones actually in charge at the projects. When I go to construction sites, I ask for an hour’s meeting with them to talk about the value of prevention. I explore ways in which we can improve what we do, how to deepen their leadership. It seems to me that the greatest contribution I can make is to try to raise people’s awareness and understanding of these points—and, of course, help them comply with the audit specifications,” said Omar.
Values as a corporate flag
Commitment to QHSE, ethics, transparency and professionalism, people’s career development, respect for communities, and being predictable are corporate values with which Omar fully identifies.
“One really basic issue to do with people's rights is that every accident can and should be avoided. Nobody comes here to have an accident; that's why we have to work in a safe environment and improve it continuously as much as we can, for other people. It seems to me that that’s the cornerstone of everything,” he stated.
And he added: “Our goal is zero accidents, zero deviations, but this is emphatically not a utopia, as this is what we are working towards. That’s the idea, to believe that you can reach the horizon and that you are progressing towards it.”
“I think people value the respect I have for them, and that everything I do pursues the aim of improvement, in the sense that I am as much part of the problem as I am part of the solution. That's what fills me with the most pride,” said Omar with enthusiasm.
Not goodbye but see you soon!
Getting off the train at a station doesn’t mean having to stay there and Omar definitely plans to continue working. “I still feel great, and I think I still have a lot to give. I also believe that young people should be allowed to grow, and the truth is that they should be able to do this job better than me. However, the path of prevention is a circular one, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting back on this Techint train further down the line,” he clarified.
“What you are is also what others help you to be. Many people have helped me over the years to be who I am today, and it’s important to be grateful to those people in life. Another important thing is your team; that comes before personal achievements. I’m just another member of the team, and being the auditor is merely circumstantial. It seems to me that, with this way of working, we’re implementing a standard that has to be maintained and surpassed, with the idea of continuous improvement. We are Techint and we should all identify with that sense of identity,” he concluded.