Covid has made us think differently, say future leaders

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Future Leaders Symposium discusses how Covid-19 has expanded collaboration and internationalisation in unexpected ways.

Neelam Prabhoo, a Knight Piésold structural engineer in South Africa, has told a global audience of young leaders that the pandemic had meant greater integration of environmental, social and economic objectives into project work. She stressed as well, that collaboration has been vital for this, “not only between technical people but with non-technical professions too”.

Such rapid change has put renewed importance on emotional intelligence. Asked about that by the session chair, ITSEM’s Rodrigo Juárez, Neelam suggested that good emotional intelligence has two great values. “It allows us to better understand the end user of our work and their needs,” she said, before addressing a wider value too.

“Studies show that organisations with high emotional intelligence experience success with improved communication and leadership. So it doesn’t only help the individual”. In this regard and others, she welcomed that pandemic had driven some change, saying it “forced us to think differently”.

Rodrigo then turned to Yasuaki Wadasaki, of Nippon Koei, to ask how international work had been affected. Yasuaki is presently working in Bangladesh and he was clear about big problems faced.

“With Covid we have key issues. One is infection of our staff, another is lockdowns and work from home orders, and the other is international operations,” he explained before welcoming the technological change that, along with maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, had supported the project to continue.

“The most difficult challenges are lockdowns and work from home orders. In Bangladesh lockdown was imposed for two months this year so we had to stay at our hotels and homes.” Fortunately, he welcomed that although there was a loss of intense interaction in person, the use of international and local servers has helped to ensure collaboration could continue throughout.

Staying with technology, Anderson Soares from TPF Engenharia in Brazil, set out why technology was invaluable. He explained that TPF uses its own application to monitor the maintenance of dams.

Used as a field supervision tool for most diverse registration types, this system facilitated real-time data collection through a mobile App. During the pandemic, he said this had ensured information collection right through to presentation had continued to be possible and even relatively easy.

Timed to precede the Global Infrastructure Conference, the Future Leaders Symposium brings together some of the future stars of the infrastructure and engineering industry to discuss the big challenges.

Ahead of the event, the FIDIC Future Leaders Council, chaired by Adam Bialachowski, the CEO of B-Act Vintage Consulting, issued a new report entitled: Leading the way.