September 20, 2023 | Articles
Hill International is home to women in construction across all stages of their careers and in every role—from senior leadership to technical experts to newer project managers ascending the ranks. To celebrate Women in Construction Week, we focused on two such women from our European region: Assistant Project Manager Antonella Visaggi, PMP, and Senior MEP Engineer Rosana Alberca.
Antonella and Rosana are helping to deliver the United Nations Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP) in Geneva, Switzerland, which involves the renovation of a major office complex and the construction of a new office building within the complex. Antonella and Rosana offered their insights on working as women in construction, the nature of their specific roles, and what it’s like to work on the high-profile SHP.
“The construction industry has been my one and only love since I started my career,” says Antonella, who holds a Post-Master’s Degree in Integrated Design and Architectural Engineering from the Universidad Europea as well as a master’s degree in Architectural and Building Engineering from Politecnico di Bari. “Ever since I started my career in international projects, I immediately felt attracted to this world and, as all of us know, the heart never lies.”
Rosana, who joined Hill in 2020 as a Mechanical and Electrical expert in Spain, has contributed to ground-breaking projects in Spain, France, and North Africa across the span of her nearly 25-year career. “For most of my career, I’ve worked as a contractor,” Rosana says. “I started on smaller installations and moved my way up to larger projects. Today, at Hill, I’m concentrating on management and services, drawing on my experience on the contracting side.”
Both Rosana and Antonella offered invaluable advice to young women looking to enter the construction industry. “Participate in big projects whenever you can,” says Rosana. “I was lucky I got to work on large, meaningful projects relatively early in my career. If you have that opportunity, follow your feelings and go for it.” She added, “It can be hard, in this industry, but follow that feeling if you have it. It’s different than when I was starting. It was more welcoming in an office setting, such as on the project management side, but on site it could be hard at times. I think it’s better now.”
Antonella agreed, saying: “Follow your passion, pursue your personal growth with rigor and humility, never be afraid to attempt and fail, and always remember to smile—it attracts good vibes.” Adding that as she entered the construction industry, she made it a point to consider every manager she worked for a mentor. “There were several managers who marked my career deeply,” she says. “In my view, a manager has a big responsibility towards the team: supporting colleagues, peers, and people is one of the most noble expressions of team empowerment.”
Rosana adds: “For one of the big companies I worked for, I was overseas for several years in a completely different culture where they saw me first as a woman and not as an engineer. I needed a mentor to help me navigate everything, and I had a colleague who helped me adjust and get the work done. He used to say I was the brain, and he was the voice. It’s changed now, thankfully, but I was grateful for his guidance then.”
On site for the SHP project, Antonella says, “I joined the project in 2019, and since then I’ve found this experience to be one of the most fulfilling of my career.” She explains, “I’ve the opportunity to follow all the stages of the project, from the pre-bidding phase, through design and construction, then testing and commissioning and finally handover. It’s a priceless experience I hope all of my colleagues in the construction industry can have.”
“It’s amazing,” says Rosana. “The pressure is different—so many stakeholders to coordinate, expectations to manage, but there is nothing like seeing the finished project. This project is shaping an environment, it’s something you can share with your family and the world.”
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