Sales managers must have a deep knowledge of the engineering skills and functions of projects and must understand the processes that make these services work.
Answering clients' requests ensures the security of their success, they represent the company in front of the customers and do everything to meet the most challenging demands.
Let’s meet Astrid, Sales Manager in Ports and Waterways.
Astrid, when and why did you join Tractebel?
I was always attracted to the ports-world: all my professional experiences have been in line with this field. When I left my previous job as project leader, I was looking for another opportunity in the same sector.
A friend of mine who worked for Tractebel in the Ports and Waterways department, invited me to have an interview with the former product director. When I passed the interview, everything in Tractebel attracted me: the projects, the way of working, the atmosphere.
So decided to accept their offer as Project Leader in Ports and Waterways, this was in 2009.
In 2015, after 15 years of studying projects, the product director proposed me the position as Sales Manager in Ports and Waterways, and here I am.
The main task of Sales Managers is to prepare tenders. Most of our clients are governments and Port Authorities who have to follow official procedures for publishing open tenders. Once the tender is published, it is our task to analyze the tender, decide - together with the operational responsible and the product director - if we will submit a tender or not.
As Sales Manager I have to look for the best team and eventually search for partners to submit a winning offer, taking into account the tender submission strict deadline.
Another part of my job is the contact with (new) customers. This is an exciting part: trying to understand customer’s needs, how this could match within our strategy and what added value Tractebel can give to the customer. Therefore, we need to have a good knowledge of the projects and experiences of Tractebel’s teams. Challenging, but luckily our salesteam is always willing to support each other and make their best to answer clients’ requests.
You seem to be a passionate engineer, what do you like the most about your job?
Tractebel is a company with a lot of different technical specialties, with employees having different backgrounds, and projects all over the world. Being part of this and be able to speak different languages during a working day gives me so much energy.
What I like the most is probably the human contact: being in contact with customers during the definition of their project, but also the collaboration with my colleagues. During a tender with lots of different specialties, I’m nearly constantly on the phone, chat or mail. But this is what I like so much in this job.
Also, every day is different: a typical day doesn’t exist in Sales. A planned quiet administrative day can quickly turn into a hectic day, just because of a seemingly simple request from a customer.
Are there any challenging aspects?
Making an offer means getting to the bottom of a project in a very short period of time with a strict deadline, identifying the challenges and by highlighting Tractebel's strengths.
As Sales Manager, I often have to disturb my team in their planned project activities to quickly receive their contribution. Some may work long and irregular hours to meet sales targets and customer needs. But this is what gives you the adrenaline and when you see that a client is happy with your services, that's what makes you want to do it again.
As a woman, how do you feel in this world of engineers?
When I graduated in 1997, I rarely had female colleagues around the table during meetings. In those 25 years, a big change went through the construction world.
Now, we have quite a lot of female engineers in the team, and this is not an exceptional situation. Tractebel is a very good example of multiculturality and integration: we just need good engineers. Whoever they look like, wherever they come from: it doesn’t matter.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to pursue a career in the engineering industry?
Just try it: it is the only way to know if you like the specialty. The main advantage for working at Tractebel is that you can easily switch to another field within the same company. You never get bored, never stop growing and keep learning every day of your career!
Tractebel’s Ports and Waterways projects are never common projects. Customers know we can handle the most complex problems due to our expertise and our technical skills. If you want to deal with challenging projects that don't have "ready-made solutions", I’m afraid you will have to join Tractebel.
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