From ballet to Atmos

Since school, Project Engineer II Sylvia Vargas has been passionate about chemical engineering. Now she’s an engineer at Atmos and has even convinced students at her ballet academy to pursue a career in chemical engineering.

From spending Christmas in Vietnam training clients to her Atmos journey starting at a ballet academy, Sylvia has lots of stories to share about what life is like working for the world’s leading pipeline leak detection provider.

In this blog, Sylvia answers questions about:

What was your journey to Atmos?

Project Engineer Sylvia Vargas performing balletI'm a chemical engineer, so as a teenager I always loved my science and maths. I've always been a scientific person, so after school I studied engineering at college.

In the beginning, I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I absolutely loved it. By the end of college, I knew that this was a career I could take anywhere I wanted in life. Following my graduation, I started working with hazardous materials. After getting involved with in depth pipeline events, I’d seen real spills and was actually cleaning up after the emergencies. I wanted to be involved in the preventative aspect, so when the Atmos opportunity came along, I felt it was a perfect fit for me.

Interestingly, I'm a dancer in my free time and that’s how I ended up at Atmos. One of my colleagues at the Costa Rica office is the husband of my ballet teacher. I’ve been at that same ballet academy for almost 13 years now and my ballet teacher was the one that referred me to the open vacancy at Atmos.

Oddly, when I was trying to change my career path, it was through dance that I was able to achieve that!

I’ve managed to convince one of the teenagers at the ballet academy and a cousin to study chemical engineering too by showing them that it’s a versatile career and that there are so many opportunities available to you as a chemical engineer. That’s why I fell in love with it.

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


Sylvia Vargas and a colleague on site in Vietnam over the holiday seasonOn a professional level, something happened around Christmas 2023, something I wasn't expecting at all: some of our clients in Vietnam required a training session over the holiday season and I jumped at the opportunity when most people probably wouldn’t during such a busy time of the year.

I love delivering training to clients and spending time with them. Traveling across the world to a different culture like Vietnam to deliver a training session was an amazing experience.

Even though I was the one delivering the training, the clients taught me as much as I taught them, so it was a lovely experience and I was actually pretty excited about it!

This was one of those great achievements and experiences that you can’t say no to.


I love to dance, so every time I get on stage is a personal achievement for me. It takes such a mental and physical toll to do it, so it’s great every time I go on stage, dance for people and get the applause is great. I feel so happy doing it!

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

I have different types of contracts: I work on both maintenance and projects.

Usually every day is different depending on what's going on, but I start the day by staying on track with my emails since I have a lot of clients in different time zones.

Things can happen overnight, so I like to check everything that’s happened while I’ve been offline, get up to date and complete my list of tasks that I need to get done throughout the day.

Sometimes things get in the way, but there will always be the things that need to be done as soon as possible and other tasks that can be done at a later point, so I make sure I prioritize.

I'm currently starting a new Atmos Wave and Atmos Wave Flow project in Chile and I can’t wait to complete my site visit because it’s such a beautiful place and really close to the South Pole!

What three words describe your role at Atmos?


It’s important to know what each customer needs and why they need it.

Everyone needs different things, so the way I like to work with customers involves a thorough understanding of what they need and how I can best get this done for them. You’ll always see me working differently between each client, because they all have different personalities, so of course they’ll have different needs. That’s why it’s important to be open minded. Putting myself in their shoes is key.


I love the Costa Rica office because we’re all about good teamwork and being brilliant together. I always make sure I’m helping people. I like to give out support, training and be around when people ask for help.


I like to be committed in everything I do. Even if it's the simple things, I love to fully commit.

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

Sometimes I would love to be in Jun’s (Atmos CEO) shoes, to see how things are done. I’d also love to be in some of my colleagues’ shoes too, like Mauricio Rojas. When I first joined Atmos, Mauricio was starting in the Atmos SIM team with the UK office, providing support and working on bigger projects. I would love to be in his shoes one day.

I’d also love to be in R&D Director Andy's shoes because he's so smart. There's a mix of people so it's hard to suggest just one.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years at Atmos?

Every year, I like to learn and get involved in new projects because the more I get involved the more I learn.

I'm always asking for two things every year: the opportunity to work on more projects and the opportunity to receive more training.

In five years, I would love to carry on working on more and more projects and products and getting involved in new developments and more.

What are your biggest professional challenges?

Technology's changing so fast, so we must adapt. As soon as you’ve learned something technology changes or something else comes up and you have to start all over again. It’s important to stay up to date.

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

There are a few people who have impacted my life greatly. When I need mentoring, I always think of my close family.

My grandma was a big influence on me. My parents are pretty smart people and my sister is amazing too because she’s a construction engineer so she’s always building things. I’m really proud of my immediate family and have always used them to guide me in life.

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

I was pretty calm about life at that point. But I would tell her that if she continues the way she’s going, everything is going to be good. Things aren’t going to be easy, but everything will work out for the best.

What do you like most about your job?

I love a lot of things about my job. My Costa Rica team is amazing and they’re always getting a laugh out of me! I like going into the office because I know it's going to be a good day and my team are always going to lift my mood up. We work great as a team.

I love supporting our clients because they're always so lovely and respectful.

The training never stops at Atmos, which is great as I love to learn. If I want to learn something new, the necessary training will always be provided.

What advice would you give to recent new entrants?

At the beginning, there is a lot of information to take in, because we're such a specific business. It might feel like information overload, but by the time you’re settled in your role, everything will make sense.

As soon as you join Atmos, you have a great support network around you. We’re all about teamwork and the support system here is amazing. So take things step by step, find your rhythm and know that you’ve got a lot of people behind you who are ready to jump at the opportunity to help you if you need it.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

I’m always telling people and myself that you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it.

I always try and think about that if something bad comes my way and recommend that people do the same thing because you can control how you react to challenges.

What’s your favorite blog or website you follow?

It’s not so much a blog or a website, but I have started listening to podcasts on Spotify when I'm driving to the office. There’s one I like that discusses psychology and how to deal with varying personality types. It’s called Entiende tu mente (Understand your mind).

Since sometimes I can be introverted, I’ve loved learning about different personalities on this podcast and how to work with them when you encounter them in the workplace.

What is your favorite place to visit?

I do love England. I went to London a few years back and I can't wait to go back and see more of the country. I'm a Jane Austen fan, I love the landscape and all things English, so it definitely has to be England for me.

They’re more places than countries but some favorites of mine are Disneyland and Disney World because I’m known as what some people might call a “Disney Adult”.

England and Disney Parks are my two happy places!

Project Engineer Sylvia Vargas in London beside the Tower Bridge Project Engineer Sylvia Vargas posing with Goofy at a Disney park