Patricia Moreno Barbero, architect-engineer and BIM Manager at Infranea, explains to us the benefits of working with Infranea’s digital engineers based in Valencia and why they are so sought after for projects in the Netherlands and Belgium?
Seven Spanish digital engineers at Infranea
“The digital engineering team of Infranea is well known in The Netherlands and Belgium, but not everyone is aware of the “Spanish connection” (the nickname for our Spanish colleagues, ed). Seven digital engineers are Spanish and four of them are based in Valencia.”
Patricia was one of the first Spanish pioneers six years ago at Infranea. Today, another six Spanish digital engineers work there; four of them are based in the Infranea offices in Valencia – Elisa, Saray, Ignacio and Patricia – while the other three – Sergio, César and Pablo – are living in Belgium.
“Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and offers a great combination of city, sun, beach… and the renowned Universitat Politècnica de València, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, with a focus on science and technology. Valencia also hosts annually the Congreso Internacional BIM, BIM International Conference, EUBIM.” (Infranea is a major sponsor of the event.)
“It’s a no-brainer to work together with our digital engineers in Valencia. In fact, it’s a smart way for companies to move forward faster in an industry struggling to find digital talent with the right mindset.”
Patrica Moreno Barbera
Digital engineering is like a universal language
The Spanish team speaks English of course, but some words in the construction industry are very specific and not always easy to translate; Infranea keeps a lexicon of industry-related words to avoid confusion.
“Fortunately, in recent years, we have noticed English has become the universal language for digital engineering,” Patricia tells us. “At our Infranea offices in Belgium and the Netherlands, and also in the central offices of our clients such as BESIX and DEME, language is no longer an issue.”
Of course, not everyone feels comfortable yet to speak in English on the construction site, but in general the Spanish digital engineers don’t work on site.
“By the way, we do force ourselves to learn some typical Dutch words such as ‘lekkere frietjes’, ‘doei’ of ‘tot ziens’ (laughs).”
Most of the Spanish employees started as trainees with an internship at Infranea in Breda. It’s the perfect way to be immersed in digital engineering and in the Dutch and Belgian culture. For the Spanish team it is important the Infranea website is available in Spanish to be able to attract new talent and projects in Spain as well.
Distances disappear thanks to digitisation
“Recently, we worked on a project in Canada. The project team was based in Brussels, with Infranea working from Breda and, for visualisations, from Valencia,” explains Patricia. “It went well because everyone had the discipline to ask questions and to answer within two hours.”
For Patricia it’s definitely not a question of distance, it’s a matter of project management, clear agreements and a degree of discipline. For her team it feels very natural to work on a daily basis with digital tools like Google Drive, Skype, WhatsApp, etc..
Furthermore, clients normally provide a VPN connection to their servers in order to make working remotely possible in real-time. The days are gone that people think you need to sit in the same room to work efficiently as a team.
“Sometimes it’s even advantageous to work from a distance in order to get things done,” believes Patricia. “In the end it’s a matter of attitude. We want to avoid people not asking something because they don’t sit together in the office. That’s why we motivate team members to reach out and meet on a regular basis. If needed, we fly over to meet face to face.”
Operatives are now entering the labour market as the first generation to grow up immersed in digital technology. That will definitely change the way all engineers work together. Due to the scarcity on the labour market, collaboration with digital engineers across borders will become the new normal.
What makes the Spanish team unique?
“In the first place, we are part of Infranea”, explains Patricia. “In fact, we do not differ from our colleagues. We have the same skill set and we use the same methods and tools. All our team members have one or more degrees in engineering and BIM. Some of us studied abroad, like in the UK and Belgium. César for example, lived for a year in Hong Kong to study at the university over there. Pablo lived in The Philippines working as a volunteer.”
The international mindset is clearly another asset of the Spanish team.
“Due to our work, it’s very natural for us to work with people in different countries and with different backgrounds. Travelling is not an issue. I believe – because of our remote workplace – we need to be able to work autonomously,” concludes Patricia.
It’s clear Infranea succeeds in recruiting open-minded, highly skilled and highly motivated people in Valencia. A real win-win for the company and it’s clients!
Working with an international team of digital engineers
There is no way back. The construction industry is moving in a digital direction. Projects will be more complex, more digital and more international than ever. Distance can’t be an excuse any longer.
What’s in the DNA of digital engineers at Infranea and how do they transform the world of infrastructure?
Read the interview with Johan Kuppens, Digital Director VK