#WomenInConstruction: "You have to set yourself goals and objectives, define what you want and work hard to make it happen"
Verónica Tello is the Head of QHSE at Los Bronces IV in Chile. The prevention engineer explains how she manages challenges and how she sees her future.
Verónica Tello is Head of QHSE at Techint E&C’s Los Bronces IV project in Chile, involving some 1,500 employees. It’s been a long road for her, one full of challenges, effort, complications, difficult moments—and dreams that finally came true. Her goals were always very clear: study, work and start a family. And she’s adamant about wanting to "reach management level."
Her first job at Techint E&C was as a land prevention engineer at Minera Esperanza, where she was on a three-month subcontract to assemble the water tanks. Shortly after, she was offered a job with the company. Verónica remembers that at that time the atmosphere was quite tense, dominated by the popular belief that it was bad luck for women to go down the mine. However, she clarifies that her boss was unconditional in their support and had her back at all times. “In Esperanza, in the Prevention department there were just two men and some 10 women. But I was one of the first and then more women came along,” explains Verónica.
From there, she was posted to Minera Escondida in Antofagasta, and then to Sierra Gorda. By then, she was 31 and uncertain about what her future job would bring, so she decided it was time to turn to motherhood. Verónica recalls that, “I was treated over the course of a year to be able to get pregnant, until finally, I did it! I was over the moon! There are still colleagues of mine who were there and remember that moment!" When she told her boss, Raúl Ymaz, that she was expecting a baby, she received his full support. Verónica underscores the human quality as well as the accompaniment and care she received from everybody in the company, and how her workload was adapted to ensure she didn’t have to go out into the field, prioritizing her well-being at this critical time in her life.
A year and a half after Veronica arrived on site, Victoria was born. “I know first-hand how well people are looked after in the company. Also, I never felt any discrimination towards me for being a mother,” she highlights.
Verónica began work at Los Bronces six years ago, marking her return to Santiago, where she moved with her family. Currently, she has two girls, nine and seven years old. Although her working day is long and the responsibilities are many, Verónica is able to dovetail her tasks as a mom with her professional tasks to perfection.
Building a career at Techint
"You have to set yourself goals and objectives, and define what you want and work hard to make it happen," says Verónica. Thus, while she was working in Escondida, she decided to take the six-month course given at the Chilean National Geology and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN), a requirement for specialization and promotion in the mining department. At first, she had every intention of spending her vacation studying as well, added to a leave without pay, so she could finish the course, but her boss suggested that she change her shifts so that she could make this work.
Sierra Gorda was her first project as an area leader. "Changes were made in leadership and management and I began to take on more of a leadership role," explains Verónica, who spent the entire project working as a manager until she took maternity leave.
She resumed work at Los Bronces I, working on the counter-shift for the Head of Prevention. Then, at Los Bronces II, she was given the position of Head of QHSE, and continued in this post at Los Bronces III and IV, all the while receiving backing and support from the Project Manager Marcelo Quezada.
Veronica says that, “Whether it’s this project or another, I really love my job. At Techint E&C I feel super supported, what I have here is priceless.”
And looking further into the future, she elaborates that, “I would like to be a manager. Today I really feel up to the challenge. That is what I want and what I would like to define,” she says with conviction and sincerity.