Carmen Rivadeneira, expert in rail transport
In this new #SENEREQUAL interview, we speak with Carmen Rivadeneira. A civil engineering major at the University of Granada, Carmen has 20 years of experience in rail transport, having taken part in projects in Spain, Brazil and the United Kingdom. She is currently part of the SENER team in the United Kingdom and is participating in the High Speed 2 (HS2) high-speed project.
Carmen, have you always wanted to be an engineer?
I think so, I was always clear about my penchant for civil engineering. Many of my classmates from college have reinvented themselves in other industries due to the ups and downs in engineering, but I never really considered that option.
Was there anyone who inspired you?
It was a question of vocation. I felt a clear calling for engineering and I work doing what I like.
As you look to the future, in what areas would you like to keep making progress, what challenges do you face?
I think I have a lot to learn in the area of technology adapted to design. The work methods and tools evolve very quickly, and it really is challenging to stay current.
It has been proven that diverse and inclusive work teams are best at leveraging each individual's personal capabilities within the group. They foster innovation and are beneficial for project development. From your point of view, what role do women play in the field of engineering?
An increasingly relevant role. The percentage of women in technological universities is getting closer to that of men, even in majors that have traditionally had a higher male presence, they are essential to scientific research... Now we have to ensure that they are equally present in all areas of technology when they enter the labor market, because there are still fields where they remain in the minority.
We all contribute a little every day through our attitudes and behaviors on the road to full equality. It takes all of us.Carmen Rivadeneira
Do you think that structural changes are needed in how work is organized to make sure that everyone, regardless of age or gender, can contribute and collaborate in a team?
We certainly need them. And not only so all groups can contribute, but so all groups can be represented at all levels in the chain of command; and I'm thinking primarily of women, who are still a minority in the top managerial positions.
Education is essential to advance personally, professionally and socially. As a professional, what advice would you give an 18-year-old girl who is about to start college and doesn't know what field to go into?
I would tell her that, when choosing a profession, you have to feel a calling to it, at least in part, so that the satisfaction of the achievements offsets the difficulties, which will also be present; take advantage of international experiences, because they will enrich you a lot; and, finally, that you make your path as you go, in the sense that we all contribute a little every day through our attitudes and behaviors on the road to full equality. It takes all of us.
We're speaking on the occasion of International Working Women's Day. What would you share with other women to help them advance professionally and to strike a work-life balance?
It takes extra effort, but it is possible to combine the two things. We all have examples around us of women who combine their work and personal life perfectly.
I'm optimistic in the sense that we're partly there already. Through their daily work, many women are showing how, with a different organization and schedule, they can be as efficient and essential as everyone else.
To what extent do you think the digital transformation can help us move forward in striking a work-life balance?
I think it's fundamental. One of the few good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us is that we've been forced to adapt to teleworking. Despite the problems, it has been generally quite successful. We must continue down this path, in which technology makes processes more efficient, improves results and increases customer satisfaction. Because the shift towards digital also provides flexibility in one's work, and this is essential for balancing work and personal life, which is something that men and women should aspire to.