Andreea Popescu is a Project Manager at Frigotehnica in Romania and a specialist in commercial and industrial refrigeration. What she most likes about her job is novelty, managing the unexpected, and the need to constantly adapt.
Andreea Popescu has been thinking about Ukraine a lot in recent months; not only in relation to the communities affected by the war, of course, but also the Ukrainian engineers and technicians with whom she has worked on a project that has left her with a lasting memory.
“From 2013 to 2019, we carried out a contract in Ukraine for Billa, a chain of supermarkets belonging to a German group, Rewe,” said the Project Manager for Frigotehnica, a Romanian specialist in commercial and industrial refrigeration that was acquired by VINCI Energies in 2021. “The teams of the local subcontractor that we work with didn’t really have all the skills needed to install the equipment. We guided them and gave them full training. Although getting equipment up and running at the beginning was not always easy, the teams gained real expertise in this new technology.”
“It’s really rewarding to know that we helped them learn new skills,” said Andreea. Nevertheless, she worries about them: “some of the stores that we equipped no longer exist…”
The importance of knowledge sharing
Knowledge sharing is important to Andreea; after all, she decided to study engineering at the Politehnica University of Bucharest due to the fact that her father, mother and one of her sisters were all engineers in the construction industry. “Given my family environment, becoming an engineer quickly became the obvious choice for me,” she said.
After four years designing hydraulic machines for a specialised company, she joined Frigotehnica in 2012. “I didn’t know anything about refrigeration! But the prospect of learning more about a new field, and in a Project Manager role, is what helped me make up my mind.” Here in particular, knowledge sharing was once more decisive for Andreea. “My more experienced colleagues immediately took me under their wing and taught me a lot. Two days after I started, my manager had to go on a work trip. I was left to finalise a contract for a client. It was very stressful but also very educational!”
“I didn’t know anything about refrigeration! But the prospect of learning more about a new field helped me make up my mind.”
Now, at 39, Andreea manages two of Frigotehnica’s biggest accounts: Lidl and Penny. In 2022 alone, she managed equipment for over 15 Lidl stores in Romania. “It involved expanding existing stores. This made our work more difficult, because we had to install the equipment at night, when the points of sale were closed.” This year, Andreea will work on opening three stores, which is less limiting in terms of how they work.
But she is also focusing on the company’s new client, Penny. The company kicked off the collaboration by creating two stores in late 2022, with a dozen others set to open this year.
Managing the unexpected
When working with both Penny and Lidl, as a Project Manager, what she really likes is managing the unexpected. “You constantly have to adapt to new situations, find solutions to problems.” It’s very satisfying for Andreea, who as a child dreamt of working in the police and solving cases.
And Penny actually gave Andreea an opportunity to prove her detective skills more recently. She explained, “Penny stores must all be identical and are therefore held to strict construction criteria. Unfortunately, sometimes we install our equipment in buildings where, for example, the refrigerated rooms have not been built to the right size, or are handed over too late – reducing the amount of time we have to do our job. But we have to come up with solutions in every situation.”
Luckily, unexpected events and novelty drive Andreea. She has fond memories of a 2015 project carried out equipping an extension to a food logistics centre in Bucharest, the Romanian capital. “I really enjoyed working on a project far bigger than what we usually do, and with special equipment.”
But this Project Manager hasn’t lost sight of one of her main priorities – advising clients on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Scaling the equipment just right, monitoring to reduce energy consumption and ensuring the safe management of polluting refrigerants are all part of her daily work. Andreea notes that other skills are also required in her line of work. “You have to be good at both teaching and persuading people. Communication and client relationships are really important in this role.”