Meet Erika Candido, Tractebel's project manager and technical coordinator in Italy


Q: Can you explain, in a few words, your job as an engineer in Urban?

I am a project manager and technical coordinator across the various disciplines. After several years working as project manager and project engineer in the Energy sector, my natural curiosity inspired me to take up a new challenge and try my hand at the world of infrastructure projects. Initially, it was hard to change mindset and to adapt deliverables to clients’ needs as, in Urban, there is more attention given to aesthetic aspects and clients need to be guided in technical choices. That requires a trustworthy partner who is strong on expertise. It is different in the Energy sector where it is more usual to discuss technical aspects with clients. The team I’m with currently has built up a solid body of experience and we’re now ready to tackle major infrastructure projects.

Q: What are the skills of an expert in infrastructure projects?

You need to be very flexible and highly organised to plan project steps. Keeping the project targets in mind is vital, especially because Urban projects are subject to many changes as they progress. One of the most difficult aspects is managing those changes and their relationship to project stakeholders like architects, authorities, and clients. Meanwhile, we still have to maintain the expected high quality of deliverables, with one eye always on time and budget. How do we succeed in this? By being extremely prepared and organised, and importantly, aiming to be more of a consultant for the client than a “mere” designer.

Q: What are some of the challenges you encounter in these kinds of projects? What was the biggest challenge and how did you resolve it?

The big challenge is to have a clear starting point from which you can design your MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing engineering) systems, collecting relevant opinions from citizens, local administrations, and authorities, and delivering on the requirements defined by the client budget. Just weeks ago, Europe’s biggest Apple store opened in Rome and it was a proud moment for us because our team designed all the store’s MEP systems to be “invisible.” The challenge set by the architects was considerable, making everything totally integrated within the monumental building. Our recipe for success was good communication, a proactive approach, and detailed technical preparation.

Q:  What is the most satisfying part of a project or your job in general, and why do you enjoy it?

For me, the most satisfying moment in a project is when you reach that perfect chemistry between your team, contractors, and the client, and you know that even if the project is still ongoing you will achieve the target, especially when you see built what you dreamed up on paper. I enjoy working with my colleagues and I believe we are lucky to be able to see different types of projects… you never get bored! An example: currently we are involved in design projects for two Italian stadiums, Hopefully we can become a point of reference in Tractebel and to be more and more an active player in this market sector.

Q: What would you share about the past year experience?

2020 was a very particular year that none of us will forget. Covid-19 forced a radical and sudden change to our usual work habits, forcing us to adapt quickly in a climate of uncertainty and fear for the health of our loved ones. However, as often happens in historical appeals, opportunities can arise from difficult times ... Personally I have learned how to work “smarter”, also partly following a construction site remotely. Ultimately, I feel proud of the results achieved with my colleagues last year... and what else? My little girl was born six months ago, giving me the best start to 2021 I could imagine.

Q: We see a growing trend of female talents pursuing careers in engineering. What are your views on women in engineering?

Since university, I always believed that engineering can be practiced with equal success by both men and women: all you need is passion and motivation. I see a positive trend of actions to solve gender inequality and I hope when my daughter is grown up that these issues will have become obsolete and she can pursue any career she wishes without any disadvantages.

Q: What would you say to encourage young talents to pursue careers in engineering?

After 10 years in Tractebel, being able to get involved in several types of projects, counting on international experiences, and trusting my colleagues is what I enjoy in this job. My advice to everyone is to be curious and never stop studying and discussing with colleagues, because sharing knowledge and experiences is the best way to grow. Society is continuously changing, influencing how we live, and engineering allows us to be an active player in this evolution. So if you have ideas and motivation, an engineering career could be a brilliant way for you to express your potential, and help build a better world.