Crane rail operations are so special, so complex and so extensive that they can’t be tackled by ‘just anyone’
From launching rockets into space to getting rails round corners, Project Designer Victor Awi has supported some of Gantrex’s most complex and challenging technical projects. And it seems that his healthy curiosity, a questioning mind and a passion for detail are just some of the traits that have led to his supporting role in the design and development of ground-breaking technical solutions for projects across the globe.
Victor Awi – Quick Facts
Position: Project Designer
Industry Experience:Victor joined the Group in 2001 as an Industrial Designer following a period of intense study and industry placement.
Responsibility: Responsible for the design of technical drawings
Guiding Principle: Hard work and focus will get you the result you want.
Victor you have worked hard to realise your ambition of becoming an industrial designer. Can you share with us your journey to this point?
I grew up in TOGO, which is a West African country located between Ghana and Benin. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree (Serie F4) in Civil Engineering and intensive preparatory studies in mathematics and physics, my mind was set on continuing my studies at a leading technical institution. In 1991 I arrived in Belgium to join the Faculty Polytechnic of Mons, where my application to study Mechanical Engineering was accepted. Sadly though, I was not able to secure the scholarship from my home country as originally planned and I had to look at a Plan B.
For the next few years I did “odd jobs” so that I could save enough money to finance and resume further studies. In 2000 I was able to train as an “industrial designer” – FL8 long type at CAD design in Brussels. At the end of this training, I became a qualified industrial designer. This wasn’t necessarily the path I had wanted to follow but, looking back, it served me well and set me on a great career path with Gantrex. Importantly, I felt a great sense of personal pride in having turned my situation around and found a way to complete my studies against the odds.
As part of my studies, I undertook two internships at Schindler and SWECO. In both instances I was offered a permanent role, but I was committed to continuing my studies and did so, before securing a role with Gantrex.
And in the 20 years you have been with Gantrex how has your role developed?
My first role was as an Industrial Designer, which saw me responsible for the design of a wide range of technical data sheets, along with instruction guides to show correct fixing and installation procedures. I then moved on to become a Design Draftsman in 2009, before becoming a Project Designer in 2010.
Dedication and passion are clear traits of yours. How do these help you in your day to day working life?
I think passion means that I am relentless. I will strive and keep going. Whether this is in my pursuit of education and learning or in the search to find the best solution to a technical problem. Passion has served me well and leads to the dedication that I demonstrate in my day-to-day role. I am also naturally curious, and I think this is one of the reasons I have fought so hard for a technical career. Finding a role where I need to research and investigate the best approach – it comes naturally to me. I think, overall, I am someone who likes a challenge. I enjoy having to reflect on a situation and find a way to turn an idea into a practical solution – delivered through my drawings. In our industry, the challenges we work on with our clients are varied. And often we are presented with challenges we haven’t come across before. And in these situations, a curious and solutions focussed mind certainly help.
Crane rail operations are so special, so complex and so extensive that they are not for “just anyone” to tackle. Because of the quality of our technical and engineering support and expertise we can solve most of the problems encountered by our customers. We work together as a team and this is just one of the reasons why Gantrex is the leader in this field. Teamwork is key to our success and I take very seriously, the contribution that my role and skills provide to the wider team. And I like to think, and hope, that my colleagues are happy with the work that I deliver!
Teamwork is key, as is good leadership. What does this look like to you?
A strong leader must inspire confidence and trust in his team. They should make the team want to work with them, bringing about collective success. By listening to the team, a good leader will understand how to bring it together, to bring out the best in everyone and instil a sense of ambition and pride. I think it’s also important for a leader to demonstrate a longer-term perspective so that they can show the team the vision and how each team member plays their role in its success.
Looking back at your career with Gantrex so far, what would you consider your biggest achievements?
There are so many projects that I have worked on that make me especially proud. You can split these down though across product innovation and project support. In terms of innovation, I was heavily involved in design support for the creation of the RailLok Pad MK9, the Relevelling Chair and the more recent Gantrex HingeGuard Short Rail. In addition, I was involved in supporting product development of the weldable RailLok clips and Gantrex clamps.
Thinking about specific projects, I will always be very proud of the role I played on a couple of projects, namely the CT9 Container Terminal Project, the Soyouz Rocket Project where we created the crane rail system to take the rocket from it’s “garage” to the launch pad and also the TRANSPOLE – “Croisée La Roche”: Tramway of Lille project. This was one of the largest and most complex projects I have worked on, requiring a high level of technical knowledge in terms of engineering, development, and design to create curved tracks and crossings.
Victor it sounds like your Plan B worked out! What’s going to fire up your passion and curiosity next?
There is already a long list! This is one of the great things about being part of Gantrex; a company dedicated to innovation and solving the problems our customers face. But specifically, I am going to be working with the teams on our ongoing CRAMIC research project, further developing the technical resources for the new Gantrex HingeGuard Short Rail solution, and at the same time providing training support for new colleagues who are joining the design team. So, there’s plenty to keep me occupied, finding solutions to new challenges and providing the very best level of service I can for my colleagues and our customers around the world.