FIRST FEMALE ENGINEER IN HELB'S TEAM
Professionalism and versality that breaks prejudices
Energy Efficiency Project Manager and OHS Expert Slavica Bardić has for many years been part of HELB's team. Her entire work experience, education and interests speak of professional excellence, skills and competence. Her great knowledge and professionalism is complemented by immediacy, warmth and refinement. Conversation with Slavica is encouraging and motivating, her experience shows that it's possible to successfully overcome difficulties and obstacles. She launches projects on her own accord and creates and establishes new activities. Whichever project she went in, she extended, strengthened and consolidated it. No doubt, in Power Engineering, she has introduced a new dimension of business.
How did your entire professional career look like?
It's very strange voyage… In fact, some 30 years ago, I didn't expect to do what I'm doing now. Me and my husband had common idea to have more children and I saw myself at home taking care of my family. That kind of idyll was disrupted by war and I had to go to work. My first job was the care of people with special needs in Caritas and after that I worked as a school teacher. I did my job correctly and successfully, but all the time I was looking for a job for which I was educated for and it's the electrical engineering. People were surprised during many job interviews and everybody has been persuading me all the time that the best job for a woman is working at school. But I didn't give up. The engagement in HELB surprised me because I received a call to work one year after the job interview.
You went through different jobs and various responsibilities in HELB. Can you tell us more about engagement in the company?
HELB's original idea for me was position as an office-based engineer for support of testing and commisioning engineers working in the field. However, I soon realized that I miss field work for doing my tasks. During my first field work I discovered all the magic of electrical engineering. Later I was in charged of works on substations along the highway under construction where I extended my knowledge and became the main person responsible for earthing measurement in HELB. After that, I worked as an assistant to the chief construction site engineer at the TE-TO Zagreb project, where the testing has been sometimes spectacular because it's 110 kV plant. One of my favorite projects was engagement at that time largest wind power plant Vrataruša where I was the main construction engineer. The job involved coordinating a large number of people which is really a great memory for me and on the other hand, there were difficult moments. I remember the situation during large coordination when I’d have been quite bold to say that the plant is ready to be powered, despite the disagreement of some of the participants. It was really challenging to deal with these problems. Then I was educated as OHS specialist, and I set the base for energy certification projects in HELB. I was among the first in Croatia who have performed UNDP certification in field of energy efficiency. I also passed a Master's Exam at the Zagreb Chamber of Commerce for mentoring high school students, and I was the head of project preparation and project management too. In cooperation with my colleagues I initiated HELB's academy project which is currently in development. The plan is to educate various employees from production department, young engineers as well as sales staff who don't have electrical education degree. Workers from other companies would also be involved in education process. I've been for a long time one of only two HELB’s engineers authoritzed by Chamber to sign all the technical project documentation. Now I'm proud that we have younger colleagues who are also authorized engineers.
Allegedly there are prejudices about women in a profession such as Power Engineering. What is your experience?
I've just celebrated 15 years of work at HELB. I came as the first female engineer and I'm still the only woman in that profession. When women go to such professions, they are clear where they go, but sometimes some men are not clear about what the woman is doing there. When it comes to the fact that a woman appears in a substation and that she is doing a "typical male job”, men have more problems with that than women. If you are educated in this area and you want to do it, there is no problem with that.
What is the source of huge energy for such a wide range of jobs?
I put love toward profession at first place for job success and finding motivation for work. I love my job and then nothing is difficult. Moreover, proactivity, self-initiative and all the attributes that are necessary for a good employee come from that. Also, the projects we work on do not create products for one-off use. As we build plants that will stand there for the next 30, 40 or 50 years we create long-lasting value because we make the electricity available for the generations to come. When you are involved in something like that, you must be interested and proud. In such situations, we give our best and beyond expectations.