How would you describe your job in a minute?

I guess I’d like to call myself the middleman. The reason being is that due to the fact I’ve been lucky enough to work through various positions and have different responsibilities, I’ve gained a lot of experience and insight into how different products work. I’m able to interact with our departments to help deliver all the elements to the customer.

It’s a full-circle role in some ways. It’s dynamic, always changing. I don’t think I’ve come across two projects that are the same either. Each has its DNA so you have to be creative and think about what will work for that particular scenario.

I enjoy liaising between sales and marketing, R&D, projects and our engineers. It creates a good sense of teamwork. With my experience, I can then help the customers to address any issues that they might be having.

What was your journey to Atmos?

I joined Atmos in 2006. I was moving to LA to look for a new role, a new adventure. I’d never been west of the Mississippi before but I had this opportunity to go and there were lots of engineering jobs out there. I just finished school and as a recent graduate was trying to figure out what I was going to do with all that learning. I’d done some work during my degree with aerospace companies so I thought I’d try applying to some of the large companies based in California. At the time I was really interested in the electronics, automation and instrumentation aspect of the industry.

I got myself out there and set myself a target to land a job within the next few months. I just got down to it and hustled on my computer 24/7, sending out my CV and applying for roles. However, it’s a tough and competitive industry and I was considering changing my game plan. I wasn’t quite ready to start waiting tables but I knew I needed to find a role that would spark my fire and engage me too.

My luck changed when I got a call from a company that had seen my CV which I’d posted on a forum, I then had a phone call with Michael Twomey (former Atmos International director), who asked me to come in for an interview. I was living in West Hollywood and the Atmos office was in Anaheim, an hour drive away. I was ready to go right there and then but Michael reassured me that the following day would be fine. I had a four-hour interview (more like a great conversation with him and I realized that my experience on my engineering course was quite similar to what Atmos needed. I did some research on NASA and fuel pipelines for their rocket fuel systems. Knowing computational fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and the mechanics of flow, as well as instrumentation, automation, and OPC communication, was also very useful. I look back now and realize how influential it was at the start of my Atmos career. I’d never thought about the oil and gas industry despite coming from a region in Venezuela which is dominated by the sector. After the interview, I jumped back in the car and sat in the usual LA late afternoon traffic and I got a call back from Michael. He asked me when I could start. I think I was so excited that I offered to turn around the car and start straight away. The rest is history.

What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

I think the one area that has fulfilled me throughout my career at Atmos has been my involvement with development. The ‘middleman’ role has been great but in development, you are creating new tools and solutions for challenges in the field. It’s taking those solutions and making them applicable to other pipelines too. Working on a project in Canada was a highlight. It was a very long process and we had so many highs and lows but in the end, we got there. I love solving a problem by harnessing the software and engineering knowledge we have and condensing it into something tangible that the customers can then benefit from.

On a personal level, it has to be becoming a father. Having kids fills me with pride and passion. It’s a great honor to be a parent and help guide their way. It’s a big responsibility too – you have to be a good example.

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

I’m a caffeine fiend! I need some strong coffee on the go from first thing. Then I’ll go for a walk around the block with the baby or if I’m on my own, I’ll head out for a run or out on my bike. I work from home anyway so it’s been my routine for a while. Plus, we have great weather here in Florida! I’m close to the beach so I can do a nice 30-minute loop, a bit longer when I don’t have to prepare for early meetings.

I tend to work a stretched day as I work with the Californian office as well, so this allows me to be in touch with them despite the time zones. Since I started working from home, we’ve added the San Antonio and Costa Rican Atmos offices but I still work the same pattern with the team in Anaheim. And of course, the UK office is a regular connection with development and R&D conversations.

As a product expert for Atmos SIM, I also make myself available to colleagues in Costa Rica, China and our global representatives too. Every day is different and ad hoc but I like it. I like to be available to anyone in the company. I had great support from Jason Modisette (Atmos Chief Scientist) when I first started, so I try and pay it forward with newer members of the company when they need help or advice.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Dynamic – because it’s never the same.

Interactive - because I speak to so many people from so many different departments and countries

Problem-solver – I love when we have a problem. I like working out how to attack it as I love getting under the hood and seeing what we need to do and how we are going to fix it.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

If I could do anything, it would be a professional baseball player. I’d take that in a heartbeat! Joking aside, I’ve found my niche at Atmos. I’m really happy with what I am doing today. It fills me with a lot of enjoyment to see how we’re able to provide solutions for all of our customers. I’m comfortable where I am now, there’s so much to do every day and I guess any move now would be upwards.  Getting more responsibilities and helping the direction the company move as the market changes and evolves, as well as other engineers and teams grow.

What is on your wish list for your next five years here?

Well, it’s been fifteen years since I started and I’m looking to many more with Atmos, that’s for sure. I’d like to continue my growth and perhaps step up a little more, perhaps get more involved on the software engineering side. I think there’s a lot of talent coming through and the right progress will be that those people can step into my shoes one day. I’d like to get more involved in our longer-term plans too.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

I thought about this for some time, analyzing how my day-to-day has changed recently. Rather than an all-out challenge, there have been some positives too. COVID has been hard and it has caused fundamental changes to our lives but I think we’re talking a heck of a lot more now. It’s not the shift to virtual for me as I was pretty much doing that anyway due to my location. It’s more the engagement between teams, offices and people. We’ve maybe become a little more accessible. This has and is addressing one of my professional challenges – communication. I think it’s key for every group not only internally but also to improve that two-way communication with customers and partners. It should be a collaboration and human too. I think the pandemic has taught us that in spades. We’re not superheroes and while we all endeavor to have perfect systems, we have to acknowledge that sometimes we will fail, but we will fail forward. We’ll learn and develop from those challenges together on both sides of the fence.

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

If I have to mention names, then I would say Michael Twomey and John Lewis (former Atmos directors). They had a big influence on me and were there at the start of my career. They showed me the possibilities in the industry and especially with Atmos. They were instrumental in how I developed as a professional. Outside of Atmos, I take an interest in different sectors and business leadership types. I try to absorb good examples and use them at my own pace. I’m terrible at remembering names though. I can’t even do it with song lyrics and artists, but I do hum quite a lot!

If you could go back and speak with the 16-year-old you, what would you tell yourself?

Don’t focus on the little things or failures. Don’t see them in that way, see them as learning opportunities and experiences that will make you better in the future. It would be easy to go back to a particular time and re-sit a test, but looking back if I’d answered differently in that test, would I be doing what I am doing now?

What advice would you give to recent new entrants?

Ask questions. It’s okay not to know and you’re a better person for admitting you don’t know and need help. By doing so, you’re opening yourself up to learning. There are so many people that I know, firsthand, that will be willing to help and support you throughout your time at Atmos. If you go to Google, you’re possibly wasting your time as you’re closing down the opportunity to learn from someone else who has lived and experienced it. You get their experience, feedback and advice. It may take longer but you will be enriched by the process.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

Life is good. No matter how your day is going, whether it has been good or bad or you’ve had positive or negative experiences, at the end of the day you can make amends. You can correct yourself and push yourself to be better every day. So, no matter what happens, as long as you are alive, breathing and got food in your stomach, you can get through it. If I see a mug or a t-shirt with that kind of mantra on it, then I’ll get it right away. It’s good to have those daily reminders around you.

What’s your favorite blog?

I spend too much time in front of a laptop and a screen for work purposes. I’ve forbidden myself to get a personal computer as I know I’d be glued to the screen checking out baseball stats or something else in the wormhole that is the internet. I do listen to podcasts though. They are something I can do while doing something else, like riding my bike or traveling to site visits. I do listen to the Pipeliners Podcasts (and I’ve appeared on one or two of them as well), as well as some oil and gas industry ones. It’s a great way of keeping up to date with the industry and tech side of things. Plus, I get to hear about other sides and aspects of the industry I’ve not been involved in yet. I listen to The Daily (New York Times), as well as NPR podcasts as well. They’re short, and sweet and keep me updated on what’s happening around me. I still love the analog experience of reading a good book. I tried using a Kindle but it just didn’t feel the same. Obviously, with two kids it’s harder to have some downtime to read, but I like a good paperback in my hands.

What’s your favorite country to visit?

Atmos has enabled me to see so much of the world. I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica (maybe after this pandemic has ended though)! I’d have to say that the country that has most inspired me is Australia. I went there very early on in my Atmos career to a place called Moomba. It was an exhausting 16-hour flight with lots of internal changes but my experience there was amazing. The people were so friendly and welcoming. It was also my longest birthday too. I started celebrating at midnight in Sydney and then boarded the plane the following morning. With the time difference, I was able to continue celebrating throughout the day as the hours rolled back the closer I got to home – it was like a 48-hour birthday! Hands down, that was one of the best places I’ve been to and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Discover more about Giancarlo’s volunteering with a Little League team here or why not listen to him speaking to Russel Treat on the Pipeliners Podcast here