Transitioning to a land development company was a bit of a shock for Woods Stormwater Engineer, Juan Alvarez De Lugo, but now he wouldn’t have it any other way. We recently had a chat with Juan to find out about his transition, what he likes about working at Woods, and how he has further developed his skills.
Can you tell us a bit about your previous experience?
Before joining Woods in 2019, I was introduced to stormwater modelling and developed my skills mainly working in flood hazard mapping and in civil engineering projects for about six years. In the two previous companies, I was mainly involved in large infrastructure projects where one project might have been delivered over months or years.
What do you wish you had known about the company before you joined?
I wish I’d known how different the dynamic and nature of the projects are at Woods, particularly around land development compared to the projects in multinational engineering companies I’d worked for before. When I changed companies before, the transition was easy because it was just like moving to a different office location. Whereas with the transition to Woods, the faster-paced projects happening simultaneously presented the real but exciting challenge.
I went from being involved in a single project that needed to be delivered in three or six months to being involved in multiple projects that needed regular and numerous deliverables. That was a bit of shock, but it was also exciting - it was a challenge. It was what I was after, I just needed to adjust my approach so I could handle the new dynamic.
What do you like most about being a Stormwater Engineer?
What I like the most is that you're dealing with water, and water has so many different functionalities. I’m mainly involved in water modelling and assessing flood risks – but there are just so many opportunities when dealing with water as an engineer. It can be something you need to plan such as a water supply or it can be something you need to treat such as wastewater, or it can be something that you need to manage like stormwater so that when it rains heavily, people and infrastructure are safe.
What do you like most about working at Woods?
I like the flexibility and how situations are handled or solved very efficiently and smoothly. Whenever there's a situation or a problem, we just deal with it and get on top of it straight away so we can get the project moving. There's not so much paperwork or bureaucracy, things just get done.
It’s also really easy to talk to people in the other disciplines. If I need something from the surveyors, planners or just another civil engineer, I can just approach them directly or vice versa. There’s no need to talk to someone’s boss or supervisor, so it just gets solved and doesn’t keep dragging on.
What makes you happiest at work?
I think what makes me happiest at work is being part of a strong team. Everyone here knows what they're good at or what they need to improve on, and how to communicate with each other so there is a lot of transparency. It just makes life so much better when you have a good team and you can deliver things fairly easy, as opposed to having a team that is not so functional. It makes coming to work something enjoyable.
What keeps you productive?
The opportunities that I have to grow my career. If I see or am given an opportunity for something that I can improve on, then I can work towards it and I'm more productive. There’s always a challenge or opportunity that I can just go for which will allow me to work on my career path and progress.
It’s also the workload and pace. I might have five deliverables within two weeks. I know that if I’m not productive, then those are not going to get done. And in some instances, other disciplines are waiting on my input, so if I’m not productive, then I’m holding everything back. It’s something that I’m always conscious of that helps me get things moving.
How have you developed your skills through your time at Woods?
I’ve developed my skills in multiple ways. Firstly, being part of a strong team of people with different backgrounds, I’m exposed to different skills and experiences that I’m able to learn from.
Secondly, when I’m teaching or supervising the younger or more junior members of the team, it is a good opportunity for me to solidify my skills and knowledge which is an important part of developing your skills.
Finally, Woods has given me exposure to external training and supported me to attend conferences or anything else relevant to my career.
How would you describe your work life to a friend?
I would say once you’ve settled in at Woods, it’s very self-driven. Overall, I'm pretty happy because I have a lot of freedom in what I do and how I do it. I get to choose the times that work for me best and I get to have input into what type of projects I would like to get involved in. Woods is also pretty happy to support me in my decisions and in the way that I want to have my career going forward, which is great.
Juan Alvarez De Lugo - 3 Waters Engineer