: 4 min
Mercedes Garcia, dedicated engineer and enthusiastic leader
Pierre Soissons / Safran
"I studied Industrial Engineering at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, the ICAI engineering school, in Madrid, where I specialized in Mechanical Engineering", explains Mercedes Garcia when asked about her university studies. After graduating among the top pupils of her class, she joined ITP, currently known as ITP Aero, a Rolls Royce company in Spain. After initially working as an intern, she quickly became a full-time mechanical and electrical designer and aerospace project manager, mainly working on engines. "I spent six years in this position. The company then created the Aircraft Division of ITP, called ITD, and I took the lead of the Systems and Aerostructures business unit". Seven years later, Mercedes is now Head of the Business Development Field for the entire company, responsible for developing new customers to support growth.
Leading the first Spanish Safran site
In 2012, Mercedes was appointed by Safran Engineering Services to lead the Spanish branch of the company. "I was looking for a new challenge after several years working for the same brand. Safran Engineering Services was opening here in Spain and was the first Safran Company to open up in the country. I thought it could be a very good opportunity for my career. Moreover, I was not alone when I joined, as some of my ex-colleagues came too".
Since then, she has never regretted making this decision. As General Manager, she has had to create a new team, focus on sales growth, apply all Safran procedures locally and promote the mindset of the international group. "It was a tough period at the beginning, and I had some failures. It was not always easy being a woman in the job and building a family at the same time", she admits, "but I listened and learned a lot. I've always believed in my abilities, and I benefited from the full support of Safran, which I found to be more supportive with regard to the real world than other companies, including with respect to my individual circumstances."
Promoting Safran culture
From just six people at the beginning, Safran Engineering Services Spain reached 200 team members in only a few years. "Starting with a small group of people that used to work very locally, we had to take on the Safran culture. It was not easy to realize the size and importance of the company we belonged to. Nevertheless, for me, this worked out quite well, through management meetings, roadshows, and discovery days. Once I got into this mindset, it was a pleasure to work with my international colleagues, with the excellent support of my own manager, and to be able to promote and share this culture with the team."
What are Mercedes' strengths? Her in-depth knowledge of the engineering business is the guiding principle of her career. In her new position, she focused on motivating teams: "To be awarded projects, to ensure customer satisfaction, to be competitive and yet humble, to keep learning and improving, to sell what Safran is, its quality and expertise", she explains.
Growing into Safran
After leading the Spanish site, last year she was offered a new position, namely that of Safran Engineering Services Regional Director for Europe, covering Spain, the UK and Germany. "My role was to accompany strategic changes in the Spanish Business Unit during 2020 and then to take the Regional lead for two other countries, the UK and Germany. I was excited by this challenge." She has already started to understand the business perspectives and challenges in both countries, thanks to the support of both General Managers and their teams.
What helps her make a success of this role? "Professionalism, creativity, pragmatism, and above all, people. In the end, we are an engineering service company, and our people must be committed to everything we do, whether with respect to our customers or our colleagues. I like to foster collaboration among countries, to take advantage of our cultural differences, to get the best from people, in order to build the perfect team. Having fun while working hard, using empathy and soft skills with Customers and employees, and putting my specialized engineering knowledge to work to meet the highest quality standards. This is part of my personality, my personal seal and my contribution to Safran".