Victoria El Kher: Problems are there to be solved

Despite her young age architectural technologist Victoria El Kher has already had her fair share of professional challenges in different countries. She firmly believes that not shying away from new challenges is the only way you will gain useful experience.

Working at a brewery in Mexico and on several dairy projects at home and abroad, as well as being design manager on a dairy project in Sweden; these are just some of the things Victoria El Kher has experienced during four years as an architectural technologist in NIRAS. 

Development is what drives Victoria El Kher, and she goes after what she wants. Mistakes and challenges are to her a natural part of learning and she is unafraid of asking for help or input from her more senior colleagues when she needs expertise for the projects she works on.

She is convinced that a positive attitude and a smile can get you far; a belief she practices daily when working on NIRAS’ dairy projects.

Victoria graduated as an architectural technologist in 2016 and worked for a contractor before she a year later was hired in Alectia, which shortly after merged with NIRAS. In NIRAS she has been a part of the Food & Beverage unit in Aarhus ever since.

Since Victoria was hired in NIRAS, she has worked on brewery-and diary projects both in Denmark and internationally, and her latest project sent her to Vimmerby in Sweden many times, where she worked as a client consultant.

What do you work with in NIRAS?
I mainly work with dairy projects, but I have also been fortunate enough to work on a building project at a brewery in Mexico. My work is very versatile, as it consists of everything from having contact with clients and delivering client consultancy to managing, consulting, coordinating, planning, designing, drawing, and acting as site manager.

As an architectural technologist, I am often in contact with the clients to figure out what their specific wants and needs are. Based on this contact, I deliver client consultancy to ensure that the client’s requirements and wishes are met. A project typically begins at the client’s table, after which I will design a project based on their ambitions in collaboration with a design team.

My work is highly focused on figuring out how a particular building can live up to all the client’s requirements and wishes. There is often a large amount of process equipment in dairy buildings, which means it requires a lot of coordination to ensure coherence.

When did you first come to know NIRAS?
I have always admired Alectia, who merged with NIRAS in 2017. I interned at an architect firm where Alectia delivered engineering services on the same project I worked on (DOKK1). I was very impressed with them so when I saw an employment opportunity at the company I jumped at the chance. I was very eager to get the position as architectural technologist. So eager in fact that I couldn’t resist calling them to ask if they had received my application. They had, and luckily they were interested.

What is your favorite part of your work?
I know that I have good communication and sales skills, and I enjoy using them in my work when I am in contact with the clients. When we get an assignment or a project from a client, I like being in contact with them and identifying their needs. Occasionally, this results in the assignment becoming larger than initially expected, because I discover more ways to help the client.

I also spend a good amount of my time drawing and designing, which I appreciate. As a young professional, I enjoy being part of the processes. In those processes, we work in teams at different levels and across different departments, where I have the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience, which is priceless when you’re junior in a field like I am. In the drawing and design phase, I can immerse myself in discovering the optimum ways to meet the client’s needs. I like solving the challenges I have previously discussed with the client.

How do you approach challenges on the job?
I am not afraid to ask my colleagues for advice when I encounter challenges. I work with many brilliant people, who have been in the field a lot longer than I, and who I greatly respect. I utilize their knowledge and expertise as much as I can, when I face challenges I can’t solve myself. Although I have high ambitions, I do not hesitate to ask for help, because that is exactly how I can get better and develop professionally.

I am generally a very positive person, so a challenge is not a problem for me unless it does not get solved. I have no doubt that a smile and a positive state of mind can get you far, and that there is always someone who wants to help.

What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on in NIRAS?
The most exciting project has been the expansion of Arla’s dairy in Vimmerby, Sweden where I am the client consultant. I have spent multiple weeks on the construction site in Sweden, because I think it’s important to be present at the site and not hide behind the computer. It makes it easier to resolve the problems and questions that naturally emerge along the way on such a comprehensive project.

It is an exciting project because I have been responsible for many of the building’s facets. I have been in charge of client contact, design (in collaboration with a fantastic team from my own department and other departments in NIRAS), client consultancy, management, planning, coordination, and much more. I have throughout the project gotten assistance from project managers, who have helped me from the sidelines. I have been entrusted to do most of the work, so I can learn and improve my expertise for future projects.

I have appreciated being site manager on the project for a short period of time, as it has given me a great understanding of the ways in which the processes actually work. It is important to know whether the sketches I’ve drawn are even possible in reality, and that is why I spend a lot of time at the construction site. I furthermore see that my presence is a great help to the contractors, because I know the exact intentions behind the drawings from A to Z.

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