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October 2020


Meet Pascale Massaad

Over 20 Years of Experience In Underground Complex Infrastructures

Steve Jobs famously said, The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. In this edition we focus our attention on Pascale Massaad, Director of Competence Center GEOS Geological/Geotechnical Engineering, and Underground Structures for those exact same reasons, her passion and great work. Pascale’s passion about her career has taken her through 20 successful years of working in complex infrastructures and dam projects around the globe. 

We asked Pascale to share a few highlights of her trajectory to illustrate the relevance of her role and how she thrives to give her very best to every underground structure where she applies her expertise. 

You have been selected to be an ExpANDER, can you tell us more about your expertise? 
ExPAND is the ENGIE recognition program that enables talents to enlarge their skillset and broaden their expertise in specialised engineering areas. I have accumulated over 20 years of geotechnical experience on numerous complex infrastructures and dam projects, both in the design and construction phases.
I am responsible for the river and linear infrastructure of sector 1 of the North European Seine Canal project, in Paris. I also have been able to apply my expertise to rail sector projects such as the LGV Est 2nd phase project and on the LGV Sud Europe Atlantique project and several sections of the Great Paris project. I also provide expertise on major dam projects in France and abroad. 

I am an active member of AFTES (French Association of Tunnels and Underground Areas) and CFMS (French Committee for Soil Mechanics) and participate in working groups such as "micropiles", allowing me to keep up with new techniques and trends.
My passion for this career goes even beyond the field; I provide in-house training for young engineers and have participated in several courses in engineering schools. 

How did your career evolve along with your expertise, can you tell us more?  
I started at Tractebel as a qualified engineer specialising in geotechnics, progressing into geotechnical expertise while being appointed Key Expert in this field. Then, Tractebel offered me the opportunity to manage the competence center GEOS pole, including managing a team of 17 specialists and experts in geology, geotechnics and underground works.  

I set myself the goal and took in the challenge of successfully managing the team while maintaining my role as a geotechnical expert on complex projects. This dual technical and managerial activity brings me satisfaction and balance.  

What is the biggest challenge in your field?  
We are increasingly called upon to respond to complex projects requiring interdisciplinary skills. Ambitious projects such as linear road, rail or river infrastructures or large towers which are sometimes located in sensitive urban environments requiring deep excavations, the construction of engineering structures and tunnels in loose soil or presenting geotechnical risks with deep foundations, integrating geothermal installation or large volume ground injections. 
The engineer must design such constructions while respecting the regulations in force, the requirements of quality, timelines and the environment.  

Which part of your job brings you most satisfaction? 
When I see the achievement of our design carried out with respect for the environment and customer satisfaction. Also, to perceive the enjoyment of my team members arriving at the office with a smile and to hear them discussing and progressing around a technical subject. 

Up close and personal

with Hicham Nacer our Building Manager in Brussels, Belgium

We asked Hicham a few quick questions to get to know him better.
No spoilers, watch our Fast and Curious Interview to know more about him. 

Frank Robanus, shares insights about managing challenging projects 
Frank Robanus, M.Sc. and Dipl. Ing. Architect (FH) is a senior consultant managing the TenneT Stade-Landesbergen project as deputy overall project lead in Germany. 

The project is based on the decision to shut down the nuclear power plants in Germany and the resulting energy transition. The projects come with additional engineering challenges due to their nature. The tricky feature about the construction of transmission grids is that most of the construction is carried out on land that does not belong to the developer/client and that measures of this magnitude affect many public interests. This results in a high number of project participants as well as interests and requirements that must be meticulously coordinated. 

The project is a good example to demonstrate our project management skills, in particular coordination tasks and change management, scheduling, cost control, document management, quality management, risk management and contract management. 

Stade-Landesbergen is one of the first projects to be implemented by the client under an EPCM procedure (Engineering Procurement Construction Management). Within Tractebel, the large knowledge is provided by multiple sister companies. Among others, Tractebel with its Energy and Hydro divisions, Lahmeyer Deutschland, DOC and GKW are involved. These internal companies within the group are further supported by subcontractors with specific expertise. A project of this magnitude can only be managed by joining forces, rolling up your sleeves and putting your best project managing skills on the table.  

Effective project management skills can always be improved and developed. It’s important to honestly evaluate your skills and to work to improve those that are lacking. 
Michiel Maertens, young engineer in Transport Infrastructure

My background is in Civil Engineering, I joined Tractebel only two years ago, since then I have been working in the detailed design and engineering of road infrastructure in complex, multidisciplinary projects. 

I have been lucky to work on three big DBFM (Design, Build, Finance & Maintenance) projects in tender phase. The collaboration with major contractors to design an economic, qualitative and yet robust infrastructure has been extremely interesting and has significantly expanded my knowledge. 

Tractebel has given me the opportunity to develop a wide variety of multidisciplinary skills. I have been challenged while simultaneously being supported to keep up with demanding projects. 

Thanks to the wide-ranging expertise within the group, I quickly gained the needed knowledge to feel comfortable in my domain. I particularly enjoy the fact that experienced colleagues are open to learning new perspectives from younger generations looking to keep up with the newest trends and technologies.    

In the near future, I look forward to keep learning and developing myself as an expert in the design of complex road, bike and public transport infrastructures. Within a few years I would like to look back at a couple of completed projects, where I was one of the key-players in the design. Besides that, I hope to see a new generation of young engineers joining our teams. Just like some of my mentors, sharing their experience and knowledge with me, I would like to play the same role for young, motivated engineers in the future. 

My advice to young engineers is to always keep an open and critical mindset, never stop asking questions, and to keep up with the newest engineering trends and share them with your future co-workers.