As part of a series of stories profiling people of influence from around Beca, we asked Principal Adriana Loreto to tell us about her career journey and life outside of work.

Tell us about your role at Beca

I’m a Principal in the Power team in Sydney – my role is focused on delivery, sustainability and management. My team are involved in major projects that link to the Renewable Energy Zones that have been declared in New South Wales. The Zones are locations that have been strategically selected for developers to do projects such as solar farms, wind farms and battery storage. 

For years, the affordability and reliability of fossil fuels have made them the go-to energy source, particularly in isolated locations where they often need a constant supply of electricity. We are now witnessing a shift in the energy landscape and this change presents us with a chance to explore new, cost-effective, sustainable energy alternatives.

What led you to this career?

I have two older brothers – one is a systems engineer, and one is an electrical engineer. My Dad is a mechanical engineer. I randomly decided to study chemical engineering – I think I wanted to be different! I worked in oil and gas and then water treatment. Then, opportunities happened – I moved to power stations, looking after the balance of plant design, and slowly moved into design management. When I was offered the chance to be a Design Manager for Power, I said, ‘I don’t think I’m the right person for this role, I know nothing about HV electrical engineering!’. They explained that it was more about people management. And here I am, 12 years later, working in power, and I really love it. 

So, based on my own experience, my advice to others is, be open to opportunities in whatever form they come. Listen to what others have to say about what they think you can do. Maybe they see things in you that you don’t see in yourself. 

My advice to younger generations is take the time to learn and develop your career. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it’s important to work your way through the steps in between junior and senior roles. They give you the resilience you’re going to need later on. 

What were you like as a child? What did you think your career would be?

I remember quite clearly telling my mother that I wanted to be a house cleaner! I must have been about 8 years old. But I really wanted to be a teacher or a paediatrician. However, growing up in Venezuela, I felt that teaching was a profession that was not really appreciated. And I couldn’t see myself studying medicine for such a long time. And so I started thinking about engineering.  

How would your friends describe you?

They would say, I’m someone who never answers the phone! It’s not intentional, but during the day I’m too busy, and when I’m not at work, I want to have my own time with my family. I only keep my phone beside me when my kids are not with me. 

When I first met my husband, he was getting frustrated because he kept messaging me and I would never reply. He thought I wasn’t interested. When we actually spent some time together, he realised it’s not just him!

Other than that, I’m usually described as a person who’s always laughing and finding good things to bring up, even when everyone is quite stressed. Sometimes to my detriment – that gets confused with not being serious. And then people are surprised to learn that I can also be quite tough! It takes them by surprise. 

How do you unwind from work? 

I like to spend time with my kids and husband outdoors. We love camping and going to the beach. 

I enjoy reading – I have a nice hammock at home. That’s my place to have coffee and stay for a while. 

It can be hard to disconnect when you leave the office. It’s easy to rethink things over and over. With time and experience, you learn to train yourself to stop, when enough is enough. The situation is gone – you can’t change it – all you can do is think about how you will do better next time. I like to use my commuting time to reflect, and then as soon as I get home, I set it aside as a task for tomorrow. 

What makes your work rewarding?

For me, this is a very special moment in time. The industry is seeing a massive change and moving in a completely different direction from what has been done historically. I enjoy being part of that transition – this massive challenging time where everyone needs to come together. No matter what company you’re working for, we are here as a team to make this happen. I really enjoy that people are having to let go of their own interests and work together – because if we don’t do it together, it’s not going to happen. 

I think in the future we’ll look back and view the energy market in terms of ‘before’ and ‘after’ we moved into renewables. I think this is that snapshot in time that will define two eras.

I think by the time my grandchildren are here, non-renewable energy will be something of the distant past. They won’t be able to imagine that there was a time when we didn’t have solar farms or wind turbines on the water. They will hardly be able to believe that we used coal and gas as fuel.

I think we are part of a massive shift and everyone that’s involved right now will be very proud to say, “I was part of that moment in time. I got to see that change happen from the inside”.

About the Author
Adriana Loreto

Principal - Design Manager

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