Who Is SEL: Employee Story

Creating Community

Valeria G., an associate project engineer at SEL’s San Luis Potosí, Mexico, location, is a connector and a people person.

Outside of work, you might find her singing karaoke with her friends or cracking an engineering joke with her dad (he’s an IT engineer).

“I love being with people,” she says. “I enjoy every moment I have with the people I care about.”

As a project engineer, Valeria works in Engineering Services to deliver automation solutions to SEL customers. It’s a role where she can apply her people skills to a purpose she finds fulfilling: delivering reliable power to her community and the millions far beyond it.

“I think every person at SEL understands that the work we do impacts people’s lives,” she says.

The Importance of Systems

Valeria’s work on system design projects allows her to closely collaborate with many groups. In a typical day, she may be meeting with utility or industrial partners to develop a thorough understanding of their needs; working with sales to align those needs with a solution; or realizing that solution alongside a variety of colleagues: protection engineers, mechanical engineers, project managers, manufacturing employees, and employees in Factory Acceptance Testing.

Incredible things can be accomplished when specialized individuals work together to achieve a common goal. Certainly, Valeria sees this when collaborating with wide-ranging experts on system design projects. But it’s also true of the specialized technology that comprises the systems themselves.

“A single device can’t really protect a complete system,” she says. “You need a whole network that functions and can attack that problem and can connect to another network if necessary.”

For Valeria, it’s important to recognize the community of people who realize these complex systems.

“Just like a single device can’t protect an entire system, one person can’t do all the work we do,” she says. “We always have to function in society. From our family as a small society, to the place where we work as a larger society.”

Sharing Knowledge

Family was one important factor in what inspired Valeria to become an engineer. She remembers listening with interest to engineers in her family talk about their work. She’s also always been an inquisitive person—the kind of kid who would take apart their electronic toys to see what’s inside.

“When I was in high school, I realized that actually, I could understand a lot of what surrounds us by becoming an engineer,” she says.

These days, Valeria enjoys that she can teach and share knowledge with those who initially inspired her. She particularly loves to talk technology with her dad.

“It’s amazing because we have this curiosity about each other,” she says. “I use him as a guide for some things, and then he asks me how they can use this in IT.”

Similarly, Valeria appreciates the information sharing that happens naturally in the community she’s found at work. When thinking back to her earliest days at SEL, Valeria remembers that she often felt afraid of making mistakes due to the high-stakes nature of her work. But her coworkers, who were enthusiastic about teaching her and supporting her professional growth, eased her concerns.

“Someone is always willing to answer your questions and to share their knowledge,” she says. “Not only in the engineering area—the manufacturing area, Human Resources—all of them are engaged in telling you what they know. So I think that’s how you create bonds in an easy way.”

Prioritizing People

Valeria likes to think of her work community as a chain. “Once a link is broken, it’s no longer functional,” she says. To prevent this, Valeria prioritizes building and reinforcing the bonds she has with coworkers.

There are many effective ways to create strong work relationships. Sometimes, Valeria says, it’s about the big things, like recognizing the responsibility she has to her coworkers as a design engineer.

“Because our product is going to be manufactured and tested by our coworkers, we can’t think, ’I’ve already made this design and its configuration—it’s not mine anymore,’” she says.

A strong sense of ownership over projects also creates opportunities to learn from her coworkers’ areas of expertise and refine her designs.

“At the end of the day, they know their process and help us understand what is the best way to design and deliver to the customer the best possible quality,” she says.

Other times, it’s the little things that make all the difference in relationship building. Valeria says kindness is a detail she focuses on. For instance, she might choose to end a day at work by grabbing a coffee in the manufacturing area—an effective, informal way to catch up on projects while building community.

In addition to prioritizing her commitments to coworkers and external partners, Valeria also keeps end consumers—people benefiting from reliable electric power in her community and beyond it—top of mind.

“I love what I do because I feel that it has meaning,” she says. “When you see electricity and electric systems, you know somehow you put in your grain of sand and made your contribution for it to work properly. Especially when you can see a system that you designed from scratch. It is very satisfying.”

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