Migrating to Canada: Joining Ottawa’s Tech Community

Icaro Mariani with his wife and dog
Icaro Mariani with his wife and dog

At Giatec, we have exciting technology and exciting people. Being a leading technology company with the goal of revolutionizing the concrete industry, we need extremely talented, diverse, and exceptional professionals to help us bring innovative and robust solutions to the construction industry.

As a global company diversity is an integral part of our talent acquisition and business strategy. We strongly believe that a diverse workforce provides tangible benefits to Giatec as it allows us to understand business and industry needs from a global perspective.

Giatec believes in talent! As we value our people, not only for what they do, but also for who they are, we have decided to create a series of blogs about our employees, their career paths, passions, progression, and life at Giatec. Each of our team members has an amazing personal story worth sharing.

First up… Meet Icaro Mariani

Icaro is from Curitiba, in the south of Brazil, where he spent most of his life before he immigrated to Canada last year. He joined Giatec 1 year ago as an Engineering Solutions Support Associate. Since then, he has made a huge impact on how Giatec delivers its solutions to our customers.  Here’s what Icaro has to say about his career and experiences:

Headshot Icaro.

Why did you decide to become an engineer? Tell us about your engineering background.

Since I was a little boy, I was fascinated by how things work from how the buildings stand up to how a plane can fly. I believe I started on the path of Civil Engineering when I was 9 years old. Back then, my favourite toy was LEGO and my main goal was to build LEGO towers that could touch the ceiling of my apartment. It took months because I was little and needed to use a ladder. That’s when I started to understand the laws of physics.

On my 16th birthday I needed to choose what university course I would take and for me the decision was clear: Civil Engineering.

In Brazil, there is a sort of ‘entrance exam’ to get into the best universities and the competition for the Federal University of Parana (UFPR – the first Brazilian university) was 20 to 1. I was able to pass it and started my dream of becoming an engineer.

What do you enjoy the most about engineering?

Its multidisciplinary. By studying engineering you fit into several roles, from Project Management to Technical positions. Engineering is also logical! 1+1 = 2.

Lastly, problem-solving from the engineering side. I don’t know how many times I went to sleep with an unsolved problem in my mind and woke up with the solution. It’s not all about building and developing concepts, it’s about improving people’s quality of life. How would the world be without dams that produce electricity? Without the major infrastructure projects, railways, roadways, airports, stadiums? What about other disciplines? The powerlines? The airplanes, ships, robots, vehicles? Even the International Space Station!

That is what fascinates me. The constant push to find new ways and solutions for old problems.

icaro mariani on jobsite

Why the concrete industry?

It goes back to when I was a kid building LEGO towers. I read in a Brazilian magazine that the CN Tower was the highest freestanding structure in the world (now it’s Burj Khalifa). And it was made of concrete!

I strongly believe that my passion started then. I had no doubts when I started looking for a job as a recent grad it needed to relate to concrete. I spent 7 years in concrete batch plants developing solutions to major construction worksites. Even participating in a high-rise tower – searching, studying, and developing the mix design to the Yatchhouse Building, 2 towers that are 925 ft (282 m) high each.

Why did you decide to immigrate to Canada?

I reached a turning point in my life where I needed to pursue a better quality of life. I started looking for a country to immigrate and a ‘must-have’ point in my decision was a country that would utilize my engineering experience.

I landed in Canada as a Permanent Resident in 2019. Time proved that I had made the right decision, as now I work for Giatec providing solutions to worldwide clients utilizing my engineering background.

As a professional with experience in the construction industry in both Brazil and Canada, what do you think are the similarities and differences?

Mainly cold weather concreting. In Brazil, we do not have cold weather, which means that we do not need heaters on jobsites to achieve the minimum required strength of the concrete. Overall, there are lots of similarities, even the way concrete is batched, structural critical locations, project specifications, jobsite deadlines, construction methodology, etc.

Also, there are slight differences in engineering nomenclatures, but the concept behind them is the same. That gave me the confidence to fully perform my work here in Canada and at Giatec.

What advice would you give to other (construction) professionals who wish to apply their international experience in a new environment? Is it hard to transfer knowledge and skills?

It’s all about confidence. When you fully change your work environment and culture it can be scary. But with time you notice that it is easier than it appears to be.

The Canadian work culture is super open, and you can easily liaise with most people. Furthermore, when it comes to transferring knowledge, technical terms could be a barrier when you get started especially if English is not your native tongue. However, within 1 month or so you get used to the terms and everything flows smoothly.

My advice would be don’t be afraid to share your work experience. You would be surprised how identical the construction industry is.

Icaro mariani giatec

How did you start working with Giatec?

I applied online to a sales/technical position. From the beginning the interview process was very transparent and clear. After the interview, the team noticed that I would fit best with another position that was not yet advertised. As a result, I was invited to join the Giatec team in a challenging position, supporting North American and worldwide clients to succeed with Giatec technology. That was a vote of confidence in my foreign work experience, which proves that Giatec has an outstanding selection process. Always selecting the best candidate for the advertised position, no matter where they come from.

Being an Engineering Solutions Support Associate, you interact with customers everyday and help them to implement our innovative solutions on their job site. What do you enjoy the most about this process?

I like the fact that I can help major General Contractors (GCs) to achieve success using our top-notch technology. There is a learning curve when we implement any new technology and after we go over the main steps and the clients start to see all the benefits from it that is the most satisfying moment, not only because it’s our technology, but because we are helping them build faster, more economically, and more safely. Another point is, as my job title mentions, I am able to propose Engineering Solutions. By having an in-depth conversation, understanding the scope of work, the mix-design, and external factors, I can propose the best usage of our technology.

When it comes to NDT technology, especially with worldwide costumers, it’s also challenging and exciting. We need to understand the construction industry, standards, and other factors in their location. Then we can introduce technology and all aspects of it.

In other words, I enjoy being challenged. From checking the correct mix design and its correlation to mass heat generation to explaining corrosion principles to using NDT devices. That is what drives me, and I believe the rest of the Giatec team as well.

What’s it like to be a part of Giatec?

It’s knowing that to succeed you need to be a hard worker. Giatec’s workforce is also extremely diverse which, in my opinion, creates an awesome work environment.

By having social events (even during a pandemic – with all cautions in place), I believe that the company does its best to balance hard and focused work with a healthy and fun environment.

What is your most memorable moment connected with Giatec?

Being on a jobsite as an actor. As an engineer, I am used to going to different jobsites to do the job I need to do. This year I was called to be our model for a new corporate video we filmed. It was interesting and funny at the same time. Never thought I would be a model and that was quite memorable. Being there, standing for filming.

What do you enjoy the most about Giatec?

The fact that the company is pushing the boundaries of knowledge. That its vision is to truly revolutionize the construction industry.

The fact that I can learn something new every week, from training sessions with a major GC in North America or discussing engineering concepts with our well-versed team.

giatec icaro mariani

Tell us three fun facts about coming to Canada for the first time.

Poutine: One of the main dishes in Canadian culture. I have never tried it before coming to Canada and it’s amazing

Football or soccer? As a Brazilian, I call it football. And here in Canada sometimes people call it soccer, sometimes they call it football. I find it funny.

Metric or imperial? The official measurement system is metric; however, this is not the rule of thumb. The rule is it DEPENDS! Distance, is it long? KM or Short? ft, in

Temperature: Weather? Celsius! Your pool or oven? Fahrenheit!

It’s nice because you have a good perspective from both measurement systems, but I find it funny – I don’t think I’ll ever get used to asking for a drink in oz instead of ml.

What is your best advice for anyone who is coming to Canada?

Enjoy this amazing country. All you need is focus, dedication, and hard work. Canada will reward you with an outstanding quality of life.

Fit into the culture! You will notice that the culture and the people are what makes Canada great. Canada is Canada because of its people!

My best advice would be, accept yourself as an immigrant, be proud of who you are, and Canada will accept you as a Canadian.

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