January 2011 - You can define the Enel Green Power project manager in many ways: a globetrotter, a driving force, a functional leader. It depends on what you would like to emphasize. What is certain, however, is that their everyday job is strongly indicative of EGP’s spirit and style. They aren’t super-humans, yet they work in a sector whose scope comprises the entire world. They are global by vocation and necessity, and they embody the operating trait d’union among various sectors, professions, cultures, and countries. “I have been a part of workgroups like these for many years, even as project manager,” said Enel Green Power’s CEO Francesco Starace. “I think of that period as maybe the most instructive and intense in my life, from a professional point of view. The satisfaction of seeing a project materialize in front of your eyes, watching it grow and, eventually, having it completed has rarely been matched in the course of the rest of my career.”
“This is no job that you can do sitting at your desk. You need to go and check things out for yourself, rather than rely on e-mail and phone.” This is how Luigi La Pegna, Head of Project Management & Control for Enel Green Power described the job of a typical EGP project manager. The way he spoke about it and the tone of his voice gave the impression that he wanted to normalize a job that, in reality, is hectic to say the least. In fact, “go check things out for yourself” may mean having to travel from the desert sand storms in Kansas to -16º F in Alberta, Canada, like Donald Miller, senior project manager in North America. Or even move from Pianura Padana, in Italy to Nevada, U.S., as was the case with Nicola Santamaria, an EGP project manager who has lived in Nevada for four years, to the point of, as La Pegna put it, “getting naturalized.”
Not a desk job
Today EGP has 60 open sites, small and large, in which as few as 15 or as many as 800 people are employed. Project managers aren’t hierarchic bosses, but functional leaders. Theirs is the most exhausting task and the most exciting one too: drive their teams, combine the efforts of various professionals and functions, help everybody do their very best. “They need to coordinate their teams, from the design stage to control over expenses and planning, up to the actual construction work at the site. They also need to interface with all other affected structures, from the legal department to human resources, as well as with those who are going to start operating the facility,” explained La Pegna.
To be a project manager, you need to have technical and management expertise, as well as relational capabilities inside and outside of the company. EGP today numbers around sixty men and women who sometimes follow two projects at the same time and who can switch from geothermal sites in Italy to wind farms in Romania, like Antonio Marabotto, an Italian PM. Some others have to commute between Portugal and Spain, like Beatriz Muñiz, project management referent for all wind power projects in the two countries, who in 2010 oversaw the completion of more than 10 new facilities in the Iberian Peninsula. You can’t be a project manager “by just sitting at your desk. You need to go and check things out for yourself, rather than rely on e-mail and phone.”
O fare la spola per un anno tra Portogallo e Spagna come è successo a Beatriz Muniz, referente project management per tutti i progetti eolici nei due Paesi, che durante il 2010 ha finalizzato la costruzione di oltre 10 nuove centrali nella penisola iberica. Perché quello del project manager “è un lavoro che non si può fare seduti a una scrivania. Bisogna andare a toccare con mano più che affidarsi a mail e telefono”.