Amparo Ponce


Text: Beatriz Lamela Pascua| Photos & video: Amparo Ponce

Amparo Ponce has been working at GD Energy Services (GDES) for 8 years but she works in the subsidiary of GDES in France for 3 years ago. She has participated in several innovation projects as R&D Engineer in the nuclear sector. She currently works as Project Manager in the Nuclear Business Unit at GDES France. These projects are linked to the operation and maintenance phases: chemical cleaning, technological development, radioactive decontamination, etc.

She was born in Cuenca (Spain). She lives with her family in Marseille, a city rich in culture, history, gastronomy and a pleasant Mediterranean climate.

How many years have you been in your current job, what are your responsibilities?

I completed my studies in Chemical Engineering at the ETSII in Valencia, then I completed a Master’s Degree in Industrial Safety and Environment, and it was in the internships that I started my professional experience at GDES in 2012.

I work in the subsidiary of GDES in France for 3 years, although my professional link with the French subsidiary started much earlier, in my first professional project almost 8 years ago.

During the first three years in Spain, I worked as an R&D Engineer in innovation projects in the nuclear sector. The first project in which I participated was linked to FARN (Nuclear Rapid Action Force), a team proposed by EDF (“Electricité de France”) as a result of the Fukushima accident. The objective of this project and all those linked to the FARN is to intervene in less than 24 hours in any of the French nuclear power plants, to provide human and material reinforcement in the event of a major accident, with the aim of maintaining the same level of sûreté (security).

Another innovation project that marked my professional stage was the homologation of a procedure for preventive chemical cleaning of steam generators (NPGV) and their subsequent treatment of effluents. After several years of research, the projects were executed at the Dampierre Nuclear Power Plant in 2013, 2015 and 2016. It was in the last two interventions, when I participated as head of the laboratory of follow-up of analysis and supervisor of the cleaning process.

These first experiences in the operational area were a professional and personal change. So in 2017, I decided to move to France, having the luck that my personal decision coincided with the bet of GDES to develop and implement itself in the French nuclear market.

I currently work as Project Manager in the Nuclear Business Unit at GDES France. These projects are linked to the operation and maintenance phases: chemical cleaning, technological development, radioactive decontamination, etc. In all of them, the main objective is to adapt to the customer’s needs by providing innovative solutions.

What are the main activities of your current position?

As Project Manager, my main mission is that the intervention be in accordance with the needs established by the customer in the technical specification, in terms of quality, performance, costs and deadlines.

In my day to day, I work in continuous contact with our main client EDF, the operational staff in charge of carrying out the works in the different plants, the subcontractors and the suppliers.

Based on the constraints, needs and information I receive, work and make decisions to respond to all the dimensions of the project: strategic, financial, human, organizational and technical level…

How does relocation affect your family/personal life?

My transfer to France is linked to personal and professional reasons. I was fortunate that fate or chance made both spheres of my life meet to advance in parallel. So, to this day, I can only be grateful for this great opportunity that allows me to grow as a person and as a professional.

We live in Marseille, a city rich in culture, history, gastronomy and a pleasant Mediterranean climate.

Marseille has the disadvantages of large cities that move at a vibrant and fast pace, with traffic and traffic jams. However, I have the privilege of working in offices overlooking the Cathedral of the Major, located in the new business center of Marseille.

This has meant a change in my day to day with respect to Valencia, city in which I lived 12 years. Here the pace is faster, but I find the balance on weekends. I live in a residential area, quiet and just 2 km from the National Park of “Calanques” (Bays).

The days off we take to stroll through Les Calanques and enjoy the wonderful landscape, formed by arid and stony peaks and calm turquoise waters, is a paradise atmosphere that fills us with energy.

Do you keep in touch with other Spaniards in France?

The truth is that apart from the co-workers who have come to make stays in the French branch, I have no contact with other Spanish people. My group of friends is French or of other nationalities, but among them there is no Spanish.

However, it is true that the probability of identifying a Spanish people when we leave is very high. This causes a smile to be drawn on my face and if the mood permits, let’s start a conversation. It is one of the things that I will have to wait to live again, until the health situation that we are going through passes.

What are the most significant aspects of your work?

The main aspects are adaptability to change and agile decision-making in unforeseen situations. The daily reality of project management is that the environment, requirements and needs requested by the client change and projects have to be adapted in all their aspects.

On the other hand, there is also a close collaboration with the client, who makes us participate in their needs, and this makes it very present in the phase of preparation of offers providing innovative solutions with added value.

What details do you lack from Spain?

What I miss most about Spain, without a doubt, are family moments. I am the oldest of four sisters, from a very close family. At home there is almost always noise and good atmosphere, as my mother says: People attract people; and our door is always open for impromptu visits. Here, this is not so frequent, every visit should be planned…

Although I had never imagined it, apart from the paellas on Sundays that end with a good walk through the arid lands of my village, Ledaña (Cuenca), I also miss the moments of relaxation and tranquility in the countryside helping my parents.

Currently, the situation does not allow us, but before we tried to escape quite often. I’m lucky my husband is 100% integrated and loves coming to Spain.

Do you invite young and not-so-young people to broaden their professional horizons beyond our borders?

Without a doubt, I invite everyone to broaden the professional horizon, it is a unique and very enriching experience. Since I was very young, I was taught an education without borders, I have spent time abroad several times. The first of them when I was 14, and both my sisters and I have participated in different exchanges with French, English, Turkish schools, etc., so at home we are very open to other cultures.

As my grandfather said, that I lived outside of Spain was coming… and I certainly do not regret my decision. Working abroad enriches, culturizes, opens the mind and strengthens social skills by creating links with other cultures.

I have to admit that at first it was not easy, it requires a greater effort and commitment, but today everything is benefits.

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