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Hello Carmen! You've spent your whole career in the civil engineering business, in a variety of roles and for both Hong Kong-based and international companies. So you have a very broad vision of the engineering profession. Can you tell us more about your background and what led you to work in this industry?  
I joined the Bouygues Group in 2021 as Construction Manager for the civil engineering work on the T2 project in Hong Kong, before being promoted to Senior Construction Manager. Before that, I had worked for other local, Chinese, French and Japanese companies in the civil engineering sector. I started my career as an assistant engineer on a small project where I carried out tasks related to HR, procurement, safety, the environment and, of course, engineering. Climbing the ladder hasn’t always been easy, but today I'm proud to be working on a big project, in close contact with the client, while at the same time managing the production team. As well as having the level of responsibility I was seeking, at Bouygues I found a different approach to the construction business. And I have to say that, through some wonderful encounters, I've found my place as a woman engineer!
Before joining the civil engineering sector, I originally planned to become an aeronautical engineer. Then, during my studies, I started to become more and more interested in the civil engineering side. I found that it offered greater flexibility in terms of finding solutions to problems encountered on projects. What's more, I like to see the concrete results of my own actions! So I opted for a degree in civil engineering and joined the construction industry in Hong Kong.

As a woman, what difficulties have you faced in your career? And how did you overcome them in such a male-dominated environment?

I've worked in the construction sector since the start of my career. In those days, women engineers were pretty rare on building sites, and they were often considered to be less technically competent than men. In my first job, I was asked to work on everything, except engineering tasks!
I've also worked in some companies, where women’s suitability to work in tunnel often came into question.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for women’s legitimacy to be called into question in technical sectors. But with conviction, I proved to my superiors that I could handle human resources, quality, safety, etc. while also providing sound technical advice.

Legends and beliefs
For a long time, as in the shipbuilding industry, women were believed to bring bad luck on a tunnel construction site and to be the cause of accidents! Fortunately, these superstitions have faded over the last thirty years and no longer constitute grounds for keeping them out of the profession.

Role models are essential for changing perceptions in our environment and breaking down stereotypes. Have you had any mentors in your career who have particularly inspired you?

I can think of three key people I have been lucky enough to meet at Bouygues and who have given me a lot.

I met Alice Fung, Legal Director of Dragages Hong Kong Limited, through a mentoring programme that I was lucky enough to take part in. Alice, who knows the company inside out, was my mentor for a year, and talking to her was both enriching and eye-opening! The fact that she is a woman too made it easier for us to relate to one another, and I felt better understood and more confident in sharing my feelings and doubts.
More broadly, taking part in this programme gave me the opportunity to meet women in senior roles. Their accounts of their career paths and how they juggle family and work have helped me have a clearer idea of how I can further develop my own career as a woman.

I have also been lucky enough to meet men who have supported me along the way, without discriminating against me because I am a woman.
Martin SK Ho, Deputy Director of the T2 project, gave me the freedom to recruit a strong team and put his trust in me. I am grateful for his patience and sound technical advice.
Etienne Baranger, Operations Director of Dragages Hong Kong Limited, regularly provides me with enlightening advice and helps me to make decisive decisions, when necessary, while respecting my autonomy.

Their unfailing support and team spirit are what I have appreciated most since I joined the Bouygues Group.

Bouygues TP has just launched the fifth wave of its female mentoring programme. The company has strong ambitions in terms of gender diversity and equal opportunities. In your experience, where does BYTP stand in this area?

I think it is important to promote the role of women in the construction sector, because we have a lot to contribute to the strength of a team in terms of commercial performance, innovation and communication. Many women show real negotiating and organisational skills, as well as emotional intelligence, qualities that are very much in demand in management roles.
If my previous experience is anything to go by, gender parity and diversity at Bouygues are among the best in the industry. This is particularly visible on my project, where 30% of the engineers hired are women. This has had a real positive impact on site, where communication has improved significantly.  What's more, women are often very involved in organising activities to promote Bouygues Construction's image in Hong Kong society. It's a win-win situation.

Ce qui fait la différence
In my experience, getting recognition from my fellow staff, whether they are men or women, is, above all, a matter of performance. For me, identifying project issues ahead of time and performing efficiently are the best ways to earn the respect of my peers.
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