A profession that goes deep

Interview with Franz (32), project manager in civil engineering in the Overhead Line Construction business unit

As a project manager, Franz gets around a lot: Half of the week he spends behind his desk at his office location, while the other half of the week he takes a look at what is happening at the construction site. Despite the fact that he and his civil engineering team started at EQOS Energie under more difficult conditions during the start of the Corona pandemic, he is fully engaged.

Franz, why do you work in civil engineering of all possible fields?

I got into civil engineering as an infant, because my father owns an earthwork company, and I was three years old when I first sat in an excavator. In kindergarten, I always used to say that this is what I would do later in life. Then I studied at a higher technical college and now I am working in civil engineering. I started as a construction technician, which is a junior project manager who assists the regular project manager. Now I have become a civil engineering project manager myself. I decided on civil engineering, since I find it much more exciting and diverse than building construction. In building construction, you always build residential buildings or skyscrapers, often the same thing 10 times in a row. Civil engineering, on the other hand, is constantly full of surprises. Each foundation and each excavation pit has its very own geology: What is the soil like – is it hard or soft and does it contain water? This makes it very multifaceted.

Do you have an everyday routine as a project manager?

There is actually no everyday routine. In the morning I am always on the phone with the construction managers on site and discuss the workday – the rest of the day just evolves. Time and again, questions arise at the construction site or with the supplier, and I have to take care of those. This fills up most of the day. In the evening, I make routine calls again to the construction manager or the foreman as to how things worked out for the day, if something needs preparing, if materials are missing, etc., and this results in an initial to-do list for the next day.

You can only manage and handle a construction site well, if you are present.

What is particularly important for you to enable you to do good work?

In my position, it is extremely important to work flexibly. Certain things must be done quickly, so you cannot be too rigid about your working hours and sometimes you have to work longer, if necessary. But team-working ability is also an absolute must: The people at the construction site must be informed by me and know what is at issue and what is important. I try to be on site a lot, because you can only manage and handle a construction site well, if you are present. Other than that, good preparations are absolutely necessary. They are essential for a project to run smoothly. It is the only way to know whether a project is running the way it is supposed to be running. My goal during preparations: Based on my work, the construction manager on site must know everything he is supposed to know; it needs to be self-explanatory. I know that I have done a good job when there are barely any open questions left.

The fact that we as EQOS Energie can also offer civil engineering services out of Austria is still relatively new at EQOS Energie. How has the collaboration with the other business units and profit centers worked out so far?

We were welcomed very well within the company. I had the feeling that the other business units and profit centers were happy about the fact that we internally offer civil engineering and that we can provide support to various projects. For example, the Railway Technology business unit was asking what all we cover and we immediately joined a project in the Communications Technology business unit during which we prepared the foundation for a tower. Of course, it was a little unfortunate that we started right in the middle of the Corona lockdown stage, but that, too, worked out well. Even if our instructions were more challenging and gave us more to manage which required more time for coordination and compliance with certain measures, we were ultimately glad that we were able to work at all. Except for Corona causing us some additional work, not much has changed.