Architecture, Buildings and Places, ESG, People Spotlight, Sustainable Legacies

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting an associate architect from our Buildings + Places business line in Madrid and providing an insight into their inspiration and work.

Teresa is the lead for the Hospitality and Residential sector in our Buildings + Places business line in Madrid. Her role also includes developing and strengthening client relationships, developing proposals, and coordinating capabilities both at regional and international level. She is also engaged in our social value strategy planning supporting local initiatives and projects that strengthen and positively impact the local community. Teresa is an active member of the Spanish industry association Women in Real Estate, an organization that promotes visibility of women in the sector and provides collaborative mentoring programs for women at the early stages of their career.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry.

I decided I wanted to be an architect as a teenager when I discovered my passion for architecture. I was drawn to its unique blend of engineering, history, arts and creativity. While many may share similar sentiments, something within me truly resonated with this realization. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate how being an architect is like conducting an orchestra. It involves coordinating numerous areas, disciplines, consultants and specialists, all while constantly learning and evolving.

What truly captivates me about our industry, and the endless opportunities that working at AECOM presents, is the power we have to shape the world. Whether it’s through grand-scale projects that shape entire territories and cities, or more intimate endeavors that impact people’s daily lives, our profession empowers us to make a meaningful difference.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

This is a tough question! Choosing just one project at AECOM is incredibly difficult. Each project team feels like a close-knit family, where we all collaborate and continuously learn from one another every day. I started my career at AECOM in 2014 working on the 7-star Crescent Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan. Having only previously worked in smaller architectural practices, I was astounded by the incredible team and sense of camaraderie. Each day presented unique challenges that pushed our creativity and called for innovative solutions, fostering a continuous learning environment.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working on projects in Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Colombia, Italy, and most recently, Spain. Regardless of the location, the same familial atmosphere permeates every AECOM project. We are a diverse and multicultural team, where we constantly learn new approaches, ways of working and collaborating. That’s what makes it amazing to work here.

Tell us a story of how your work has positively impacted the community.

As part of my role supporting the delivery and achievement of our social value strategy, I am involved in providing architectural and construction services to local organizations that support underserved children and women. We are currently supporting several projects in an area known as La Cañada, the largest shanty neighborhood in Europe, a mere 15 minutes from the heart of Madrid. By renovating educational and healthcare facilities for the children in this area, we can play a small role in enhancing their daily lives and generate positive impacts for local women and families.

One such project was the refurbishment of an existing building to provide more classrooms, facilities and a better environment for volunteers, children and families. Those children do not always have access to education, and we provided a safe space where they can be free to learn about and explore the world around them. Because of these improved facilities, the volunteers can care for the children while their mothers can take the time to complete training — cooking, language, etc., that will help them develop new skills and integrate in the society.

I am extremely proud to be actively involved in these community projects, bringing together team members of all disciplines and career levels.

Share a piece of career advice.

As an advocate for women’s careers in architecture and engineering, I want to ask all women who want to pursue a career in this industry to be optimistic and believe in what you do. A quote from Hellen Keller, the American author and activist that motivates me, is, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement, nothing can be done without hope.” As architects, we possess the extraordinary ability to shape the world around us, and by being optimistic and pursuing meaningful goals, we can truly make a difference.

Believing in yourself and in what you do is essential. We need to remember that each project holds the potential to impact lives on all levels and create sustainable legacies for future generations.

 AECOM team with members of a local association in La Cañada.
Originally published Aug 2, 2023

Author: Teresa Gonzalez