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Carlos Zani: “I grew alongside people who took the time to teach me and show me the way”

Published 29.5.2024

The current Project Logistics Sr. Manager at C20+, one of the largest of Techint Engineering & Construction’s projects in Chile, started out as an office boy at the company over 45 years ago. Fascinated by technology, he’s passed through many different areas, acquiring extensive professional experience and forging a solid path. Here’s more information about his varied career.

 

A life, a career and a family, all at Techint Engineering & Construction. This might be a way of summing up the story of Carlos Zani, currently the Project Logistics Sr. Manager in C20+, one of the largest projects the company has ever tackled in Chile. His past as the office boy in Sao Paulo in Brazil is far behind. Today, he’s settled in another country, and is about to turn 60. He reviews his professional career since he joined the company in 1978, emphasizing the importance of hard work, patience, knowing how to wait, making the most of opportunities and learning from leaders.

 

How did you start at Techint E&C?

I was born in the city of San Caetano do Sul, in São Paulo (Brazil), quite near the company's offices, in fact. I joined the Techint Group on December 1, 1978, when I was very young. I started out as an office boy, I was the gofer: I made photocopies, went to the bank to pay bills, sorted out paperwork. I ran errands for secretaries, engineers and anyone who needed my help. That's how I learned about the company. First, I was in Quality Control, and after two years, I moved to Planning, where I began to get a better idea of how things were done.

Was there any specific area that caught your interest?

In the 1980s, Microinformatics began to gain ground, and the companies in the Group started to incorporate more technology. I became very involved in this area because I was fascinated by optimizing processes, how to integrate areas and enable everyone to share the same information. So I always worked in related fields, seeking to improve processes in whichever department I was working in, and over the years, I’ve worked in quite a few.

I also passed through Production Control, Production, Materials Management, Administration & Finance, Supplies-Exiros, Engineering in Procurement, Systems, Engineering Systems, Logistics, International Trade, Taxes, Operations, and many others.

What’s the most special thing about working at the company?

There are a number of special things I’d like to single out. Firstly, the freedom we have to express our opinion, make proposals and seek improvements. We have unfettered access to the company's directors. There is an overall sense of direction which is constantly moving all employees to grow and become better at what they do, and this ties in with the degree of professionalism whereby everybody is permanently seeking excellence. Then there is the transparency that exists between management, employees, customers and suppliers. I love all of this, because it dovetails with the principles that my dad taught me: be true to yourself and seek the greater good. Because if other people are doing OK, we will be OK too.

A clear vision passed down from one generation to the next...

Exactly. Also, there are distinctive features about the company’s DNA, its culture which are worthy of mention. On the one hand, it seeks to leave a mark on the communities neighboring its operations, focusing on education, human resources development and the growth and prosperity of the community in general. On the other hand, there is the ever-present mandate of the founders, which is about doing what you have to do with passion. They’ve managed to imbue us with this sense of purpose, the desire to always seek quality, take care of costs, aim for the best results, be mindful of safety and the environment. The company has to continue with this fantastic spirit!

And in your career?

The main thing is that I’ve always been accompanied by good leaders! I grew up alongside people who taught me and showed me the way. The first people to set you an example are your parents, then your teachers at school, then professors at college, and, when professional life begins, you look up to successful role models, those who do things well and grow. There are no hard-and-fast recipes for leadership, one can only watch leaders on a day-to-day basis and see what they do to learn how it’s done.

Were there any key moments in your career you’d like to share?

There are four moments that I consider to have been seminal opportunities in my professional life. The first was when one of my bosses pushed me to interact with the outside world, so I had to travel and learn English. I didn't speak a word of English back then, but soon I found myself taking part in negotiations outside the country, organizing international logistics issues, and so on. I accepted the challenge, I learned another language, I started traveling and the world opened up to me.

Another opportunity arose when they put me in charge of the SAP project for Brazil and Argentina. I took part in five projects within the company, for SAP Welded, Tenaris Global, Techint E&C Global, Exiros Global, the provision of support for the localization process in Brazil for Ternium’s SAP Global, and Italimpianti (today Tenova). I had the chance to build an integrated vision of all the Group's companies, and of all the areas of each company and their respective processes. That gave me a 360° vision that marked me forever, as it added so much depth to my view of things.

And the third?

When I took part in the construction of an oil platform, the P-76, which today is operating offshore, extracting oil at a distance of 160 km off the coast of Brazil, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This project lasted several years, as we began with the offer process back in 2012 and finished the platform in 2018. That project was a school in itself, a ‘doctorate’ in processes, if you like. I learned so many things, such as naval legislation so we could draw up the arrival permits for long-distance foreign-flagged ships, carrying the items necessary to develop the company's activities. This was hugely complex, an offshore operation where all safety requirements were ruthlessly met, requiring the work of 5,000 people onsite. Today, P-76 is a model platform that confirms, once again, the outstanding quality of Techint projects.

And the fourth?

When I arrived in Chile, which was an unforgettable experience; the Chilean team gave me such a great welcome. They really are highly committed and genuinely generous people, and were ready and waiting to tackle a major project. As my first time in this country, everything has been very gratifying.

What do you think are the next challenges the company is facing in the logistics area?

Here at C20+, we’ve received strong ongoing support from the Project Management and the Logistics and SERGE Team as regards reviewing processes. Together with the corporate IT area, we’ve been looking at the possibility of creating a new tool to act as the Logistics Platform. We’ve already made a lot of progress with the aerial module, as this methodology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimize processes, facilitate logistics planning, and achieve greater productivity in all areas. The next challenge will be to develop it for use and implementation in sectors involving Land Transportation, Camps and other services under our responsibility.

What message would you give to the younger generation?

Do everything with passion. It’s not about clocking in and out and filling in timesheets, but about developing a sense of ownership of the business, as if it were people’s own, and developing that kind of commitment. Life is all about opportunities, and if they make the most of being at Techint, I have no doubt that they will grow a lot. They will have access to some of the best practices in the industry, because this is a company that wants its people to progress, and growth always happens together! If you enjoy life and your profession, Techint is where you need to be. I’ve enjoyed my 45 years here enormously, I would love to have another 45 years like the ones I had!

I would also tell them to focus on learning about Technology and Communication, because we are living in times of transition and change, and these disciplines are essential to stay ahead of the curve.

Finally, I would advise them to know when it’s best to be patient and wait, to respect hierarchies and processes, and to learn from the experience of the greatest. The work they do will be their best advocate, and they should focus on showing their work and what they can do.

Anything else you want to highlight?

Just to say thank you. Life goes by very quickly and you have to make the most of it. I feel incredibly fulfilled by my career at the company, it’s been a great ride. I have three children who are now each professional, they’re my inspiration and have also accompanied me throughout this process.

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