Daniela Garcia does not just work with carbon steel products; she clearly has nerves of steel too. From completing her PhD in just -three years while working full time for VSB in Brazil, to moving to France and learning the language from scratch, Daniela’s career has presented multiple challenges that she has repeatedly surmounted. Today she brings together her technical and business acumen and her cultural awareness to lead exciting projects that are both satisfying for customers and rewarding for our teams.
I am in charge of carbon steel products for sour service applications. This means that I deal with product specifications and ensuring we keep up with changes in industry norms and processes. I also work with marketing and development teams on the qualification of our products for the specific applications required by our customers. For example, I am currently heading up a project developing a brittle burst methodology in partnership with our customer ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). It is rare for us to develop directly with a customer in this way, and it demonstrates the level of trust and sense of proximity we have with them.
My Vallourec journey has been rather an epic, I have to say. I integrated into Vallourec Brazil in 2010 as part of my Master’s degree in chemical engineering. When that ended, Vallourec’s R&D manager accepted my PhD proposal, and I continued working as a contractor. Within a year, I had been hired to work in Vallourec Brazil’s research center, VSB. It was really intense to take on that full-time position and pursue my doctorate at the same time, but I learned a lot.
I was motivated in part by an awareness of how lucky I was to have the opportunity to develop my academic projects within a real-life industrial setting. I was also conscious that Vallourec offered many opportunities for future evolution, specifically the possibility of one day moving to France… That day came in 2016, when I moved to Aulnoye Aymeries.
My arrival in France was another very intense moment in my career. I barely spoke a word of French, so it was a real baptism of fire. I had a few French lessons in Brazil, and a month before I left, my new manager decided to start communicating with me only in French, to help me improve. I began French classes as soon as I got here, and after a year, I felt I had mastered the language and could stop taking lessons. That was a seriously steep learning curve!
I think my greatest strength is my flexibility. That helped me integrate quickly when I arrived in France. I came from a completely different culture, didn’t speak the language, and nothing here was really as I had expected. I had to adapt very fast. As a Brazilian working in France, I was seen by colleagues as a kind of bridge between the two countries when we were on projects that required collaboration across borders. Today, my role as a project manager is to work with different regions, and my capacity to adapt to different cultures really comes in handy.
I also have to thank the Brazilians who were already working in Vallourec in France when I first arrived. They acted as a kind of bridge for me, actually, helping me understand the French culture and supporting my mobility. Now, I try to pay that forward by helping other Brazilians integrating into Vallourec in France, encouraging them to speak the language – even if they make mistakes – and explaining cultural differences.
Daniela and her R&D colleagues at VSB in Brazil (2018)
I find it hugely rewarding when we deliver a project that truly meets the needs of a customer, particularly when we have overcome cultural differences to satisfy their requirements.
I also really love learning from the way the French live and work. The French have the ability to keep work discussions separate from their personal relationships with colleagues. That’s something I have learned from the French and that I enjoy about working here.
I think that the One R&D organization will help us harmonize processes, share best practices, and eliminate redundancies. I’m currently working on a project to share the best practices of corrosion laboratories in Brazil and France in order to guarantee the quality of QA and QC tests in both locations. The aim is to offer customers the same reliable results, wherever the test is conducted. The One R&D organization can make a contribution to the project and our overall goal.
I find it hugely rewarding when we deliver a project that truly meets the needs of a customer, particularly when we have overcome cultural differences to satisfy their requirements.Daniela Garcia Vallourec Project Manager Tube, Material & Application (TMA) in Aulnoye