Renaud Préat has a bio-engineer’s Master in rural economy and sociology at the Gembloux University, to which he added further studies in environmental coordination at the IVPV (University of Gent) and vocational training in aeronautic product design. His unusual profile means that he is equally skilled in the technical and economic aspects of his job. He started his professional career in IT development, and as a result added project management to his extensive list of professional skills.
At the moment Renaud works for Tractebel Engineering with a Syngenia contract, and is currently preparing for a working trip as a consultant engineer in charge of supervising the construction of a wind farm in Mauritania. We asked him about his motivations.
– What is it that motivates you in your work for Tractebel Engineering?
I had previously worked as an environmental consultant in the agricultural sector, and wanted to move towards the energy sector and its associated infrastructures. I am deeply interested in energy policies, most particularly local and international large-scale infrastructure projects. That is what led me to join Tractebel Engineering in 2013.
I have had the opportunity to work on wind farm projects and to take “working at height” training which means that I am now fully qualified to climb up the wind turbines. For safety reasons “Working at height” training is obligatory for us. There are relatively few people with this qualification which makes it a major benefit for my career.
As a result of this qualification and my interest for the technical, economical and legal aspects of my domain, I find myself working on energy policy projects for developing countries.
– And this involves travel…
Yes, I have already been to South Africa on two occasions and I am currently preparing for a 6 week mission in Mauritania, where I will temporarily replace one of my colleagues in an on-site position supervising the construction of the country’s first wind farm.
As an owner’s engineer, my main role is to inspect the wind turbines before they are delivered to the client, whilst I am there I will also be checking the quality of the contractor’s work. In South Africa I worked on a wind farm with 47 wind turbines.
At the moment I am preparing my next departure, compiling the necessary contact information for the on-site teams.
– How do you prepare for an overseas mission?
Before leaving we receive all of the information related to the country and the region in question, as well as any details regarding local customs and usages. Finally we are given a briefing on the safety regulations that have to be respected.
Before the departure we are sent the details of our on-site contacts, allowing us to efficiently organise our mission.
The company’s travel agency looks after all of the logistics, including plane-tickets and hotel reservations, there is a medical service that checks that vaccinations are up to date and the necessary visa formalities are dealt with by our secretarial department.
Once on site, there is a liaison service to ensure that as little time as possible is wasted on minor details. Basically the person who is to travel should only have to worry about getting their paperwork ready and packing their suitcase.
– How are your days organised when you are abroad?
Weather conditions are an important factor when we inspect the wind turbines. For this reason, in South Africa I was only able to inspect 3 wind turbines per day. In addition, for safety reasons relating to working at height, the inspection teams must include 2 operatives. All of this means that our day-to-day organisation needs to be very efficient. When we are not working on site, we use the available time to authorise the contents of the paperwork.
During the evenings, we use the time to do things that we can’t do during the rest of the year like reading specific books or organising our holidays.
The weekends are ideal for discovering the region and visiting any local sites of interest. In South Africa I was about 100 km from the Cape. During the weekends I would go hiking and spend time with other overseas workers like myself.
– What have you got planned for Mauritania?
I will have a wind farm with 15 turbines to inspect. Once on site I will know a lot more about the conditions and the progress of the works. Otherwise, personally speaking I hope to travel as far as Senegal.
– Will you bring us back some photos?