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A series of portraits of VINCI Energies employees. They hail from a whole range of backgrounds and personal career paths, and work around the world in one of the multiple business activities that allow VINCI Energies to prosper.

Milca Kouakou is a power supply design engineer at Cegelec, the VINCI Energies Côte d’Ivoire tertiary-sector business unit in Abidjan. Working on major projects such as West Africa’s future tallest skyscraper, this young Ivorian is proud to be contributing to her country’s development.

West Africa’s tallest skyscraper is currently under construction in Abidjan. Named Tour F, it will rise more than 300 metres and from 2024, will accommodate various Ivorian government departments. “This project is a fantastic opportunity for me. I’m working in an area I was unfamiliar with – supertall buildings,” says a delighted Milca Kouakou, a power supply design engineer at Cegelec (VINCI Energies Building Solutions).

The 25-year-old Ivorian is managing the technical studies component of this flagship project. “This requires good knowledge of the specific standards relating to this type of building, and also good team management skills,” adds Milca Kouakou, who is working on this brief alongside two technicians.

Since joining Cegelec in 2020 for her final-year work placement, this young engineer has in many respects taken an exemplary career path. Having been spotted by VINCI Energies teams during a recruitment event at her university, ESI (Ecole supérieure d’industrie), Milca Kouakou first worked on the Abidjan exhibition centre site.

When that project was suspended due to Covid, she joined a team working on construction of the Yamoussoukro stadium, on the contracting rather than design studies side. “I did still complete my placement working on the exhibition centre; it was an extremely fulfilling project with three buildings (exhibition hall, convention centre and administrative building), each of which required different solutions.”

Double passion

At the end of her placement in 2021, Milca Kouakou joined Cegelec first as an assistant design engineer, then as a power supply design engineer. “My work involves defining and leading design studies for the electrical component of a project. It’s a job I love because I get to see my thought process become a tangible result.”

This double passion for construction and electrical engineering can be traced back to her childhood. “My father decided to build a house,” she recalls. “I got really excited about the project as we drew up the plans. That’s where my interest in construction began. As for electrical engineering, that was a way to reconcile my passion with Physics, which my father, a university professor in the subject, had introduced me to.”

“I couldn’t do my job without strong solidarity between colleagues and the ambition to make things happen.”

During her engineering studies, she naturally chose the “Electrotechnics and Industrial Automation” option. This was an uncommon choice for a young woman. “In a class of 21 students at ESI, there were only two girls,” says Milca Kouakou, who is disappointed that girls are less interested in technical careers. “In high school, I took part in meetings to raise STEM awareness among younger students. I would love to encourage more young girls to follow these professions.”

Working in a predominantly male world is not a disadvantage in her opinion. Quite the opposite: “The fact that VINCI Energies is promoting more female inclusion in its teams is actually an opportunity.”

Continuous support

Milca Kouakou greatly appreciates the support and training she has received. “When I arrived at Cegelec, I didn’t have a lot of practical knowledge. I was immediately given training on professional software packages and collaborative working tools. I’ll soon be taking a course specific to my role as a design engineer to deepen my understanding of the subject.”

And the young woman emphasises “How gratifying it is to be assigned to major projects like Tour F. You get to learn a lot while contributing to environmental transition, because at our level, the choices we make to use this or that equipment significantly affect the building’s future energy consumption. I also like this job because it allows me to contribute to my country’s development.”

From her growing professional experience, Milca Kouakou knows that team spirit, organisational skills and autonomy are key to her day-to-day role. “I couldn’t do my job without strong solidarity between colleagues and the ambition to make things happen by coming up with great solutions to the problems we encounter.”

In the future, she hopes to play an active part in the creation of a design study unit, something Cegelec is currently lacking in Côte d’Ivoire. That will be a major undertaking that could leave less time for her other passion: writing novels and stories for children.



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