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From Bolivia to Hengelo

Today we are talking to Wara, she works as a BIM modeller at VIRO Hengelo.
Wara has walked an interesting and inspiring road, so let’s hear from her!

Hi Wara, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, I am Wara and I am from Bolivia. I’m 30 years old and I studied Civil Engineering in Bolivia.

I knew I wanted to go to Europe for my career, and I already studied English which made it a bit easier. Then I had to decide where I wanted to go. The Netherlands and its universities gave me a great impression, so that’s why I came here four years ago.

In the Netherlands I completed a Civiele Techniek course at Saxion University. Additionally I studied Steel structures and Calculation. I followed a course about the calculation of steel structures.

I’ve been working at VIRO for 3 years now, right now I’m a BIM modeller. BIM is used to draw in 3D for multiple disciplines: concrete, steel, installations, piping, etcetera. Right now I mainly work with steel.

Thank you for that introduction Wara. I have the feeling you have big plans for your future career.

(laughs) you are right. Although what I want to do later is still undecided. The work I do now is pretty cool. I’m still learning and improving my skills. I’m doing a lot of engineering in different levels. And together with Patrick Burghout, my team leader, we are looking into different fields I could explore. That’s the beauty of working here, you have a lot of freedom to work on different oriented projects.

As for the future, I aspire to go into directional project management. I tend to notice possible improvements on many projects that I work on. So I think I can play a role there. Having the overview, leading, delegating and improving our end product.

Tell me more about the Netherlands, what is it like for someone from South-America?

Well, I can’t complain. It took me some effort to get used to a new language and culture, but I’m growing here and I’m really happy to be here.

We are very direct, don’t you think?

Yes! Very (laughs). Dutch people are way more direct than in Bolivia.

It helps though, I immediately know what I do wrong and right. So that’s useful in a work environment. Although it did take me some time getting used to.

How did you end up choosing and pursuing a career in engineering?

A combination of factors. I’ve always been an analytical person, technical subjects interest me. And my father is an architect. At age 17 I decided to go for engineering and learn more of that field.

My father never pressured me and he was really happy about my choice, he has supported me all the way. Even when I chose to be a student in the Netherlands. Some of my friends were scared for me, and told me it could be very hard to make it here. And at times it was difficult, it was a big step for me. But in the end you have to do what you want to do. And sometimes that means jumping in deep waters.

Tell me about the engineering field, the technical world. I am an outsider and for me it looks like a man’s world. Can you tell me how you’ve experienced this?

Well if you talk about Bolivia, it’s a different case. There it is a man’s world. Because of this, there wasn’t much room for me to grow.

In the Netherlands, when I was looking for a job, I had multiple talks with recruiters and they would tell me that more women are needed in this field.
Because a women can bring a different energy, it changes the atmosphere at the office. I think that women provide a different perspective, in the way that we approach problems and find possible solutions. The recruiters actually encouraged me to work at their companies. My experience in this country has been nothing but good.

Very nice to hear that! How do you find the weather here?

Yes that’s a different story.

What is it like at VIRO?

You’ve been working at VIRO for 3 years now. What can you tell me about your colleagues and the atmosphere?

Everyone is really respectful. We do activities together like BBQs during the summer, we get along great. When I first started here there were mainly men on this floor. But more and more women work in our offices now, which is great! Overall we do have a good atmosphere.

What would you say to younger girls, who might be interested in engineering or another technical field. Girls who might not have family or friends in this field who can tell them more about it.

I would say to them: If you like it, and it's interesting to you, go for it! There is room for women in this field.

Wara - Careers (EN)