When you love your job, and the working environment is [as] positive as it is here —with cooperation, good disposition, and excellent working conditions—the pressure or complexity of the projects becomes secondary, and one enjoys the entire process.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Gladys Estevez. I was born in Havana, Cuba, into a family of engineers. Both my grandfather and my father were mechanical engineers. I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the Technological University of Havana (CUJAE) and have been in this profession for over 30 years, savoring every experience and challenge along the way. I currently live in Miami and enjoy the cultural and tropical life here, including activities such as the beach, fishing, kayaking, and a good summer barbecue. I have been working at BRA for 5 years, engaged in the engineering design of buildings, hotels, and other facilities, specializing in HVAC and Plumbing Design.
Today, my greatest source of pride is my 19-year-old son, who is studying mechanical engineering at FIU.
What does your typical day look like?
As a design engineer, my typical workday is a dynamic mix of creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration. I kick off each day by reviewing emails and project updates, setting the stage for the tasks that lie ahead. My primary responsibilities encompass HVAC and Plumbing Design, involving calculations, specifications, drawings, and overall project development. This includes performing all design aspects for HVAC, Plumbing, and Fire Protection, utilizing tools such as Revit for drawings and calculations.
Throughout the day, I promptly respond to client comments and questions, ensuring clear communication and addressing any concerns they may have. Regular team meetings provide an opportunity to discuss ongoing projects, share progress, and collaborate with colleagues.
Engaging with clients and management is a crucial part of my day, as I attend meetings to present design concepts and gather valuable feedback. Incorporating client input into the design process, I make necessary adjustments to ensure the final product meets their expectations.
In summary, my typical workday spans all stages of a projects, from the initial design to on-site supervision during construction.
What brought you to BR+A?
I had previously gained experience in commercial, government, and residential design projects. So, I was seeking a company where I could further advance my career, add expertise in the healthcare sector, and become part of a company's ongoing success and innovation. I was aware of BR+A's excellent reputation, particularly in building design for the healthcare industry. Coincidentally, a vendor friend informed me about an available position as a mechanical engineer, and the rest is history.
What’s your story?
As I told you earlier, I come from a family of engineers. My grandfather served as the principal engineer (head of machinery) at a sugar mill in Cuba for over 50 years. Following the political unrest of the 1950s in Cuba, my grandparents sent my father to United States to study at the then Indiana Institute of Technology (now Indiana Tech), from where he graduated as a Mechanical Engineer. He went on to build many heavy industry plants, including several Thermoelectric and Hydroelectric power stations in Cuba. He was a great engineer and role model for me.
When I was a child, my father would take my siblings and me to his worksites. Growing up, we were surrounded by massive machinery and towering buildings. I developed a passion for building things, firmly believing that engineers shape the world. From childhood, I never considered another career; it felt natural for me to follow the same path. Eventually, I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the Technological University of Havana (CUJAE).
After completing my degree, I began working for a project company that focused on developing touristic facilities, particularly in the high-scale area of Varadero in Cuba. I designed hotels, both new constructions and renovations of existing ones. The hotel industry offered opportunities to work on various HVAC systems, providing me with valuable experience in my career.
After my family decided to emigrate, we first moved to Mexico City, where I worked for a construction company handling both residential and industrial projects. Later, we relocated to the United States. Now, with over 20 years of experience, I take pride in contributing to the development of Miami. Passionate about my work and thriving on challenges, I work at BRA playing an important role in designing HVAC systems and other engineering systems for various buildings, hotels, and facilities. I am involved in these projects from the design development stage to construction administration, gaining valuable experience along the way.
What’s your favorite part about working here?
My favorite part of working at BRA is the combination of the type of projects the company develops, their complexity, and the great team we have. When you love your job, and the working environment is [as] positive as it is here —with cooperation, good disposition, and excellent working conditions—the pressure or complexity of the projects becomes secondary, and one enjoys the entire process.
Who is your role model and why?
My ultimate role model is undoubtedly my father, a man who dedicated himself wholeheartedly to both his family and his work. He was a beacon of responsibility, instilling the best values in his children. A remarkable husband, an exceptional father, and an outstanding professional, my dad's influence has shaped my perspective on life.
One of the lasting lessons he imparted was the belief that all knowledge could be found within the pages of books. This philosophy has been a guiding principle in my educational and professional journey. I vividly recall a time after I graduated and was in search of my first job; he suggested that I specialize in the field of air conditioning, remarking that it was an area where women typically excelled.
Life unfolded in a way that allowed me to immerse myself in this very field from the outset, and every day, I reflect upon his words. My father's wisdom continues to resonate with me, serving as a constant reminder to embrace challenges, break barriers, and excel in areas traditionally deemed unconventional. His legacy is a source of inspiration that fuels my passion and determination, propelling me forward in both my personal and professional endeavors.
What’s your superpower?
I consider myself an Empathetic Connector and a caregiver. I strongly believe in the power of great friendships, possess a sociable nature, and genuinely enjoy helping others. My ability to connect with people on a deep level is a result of my passion and energy, which contribute to creating strong bonds with both family and friends. This deep connection allows me to understand and support those around me. I derive great satisfaction from bringing people together and making a positive impact on the lives of those I encounter.
Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know from reading your resume.
I am also an engineer at home. It's a significant advantage that women in this profession possess; we have the ability to fix things and supervise projects, from small-scale endeavors like gardening to larger tasks such as installing a new bathroom. I am constantly engaged in home improvement and decoration projects. Additionally, I take pride in maintaining a beautiful home garden.
How did you know that you wanted to be an engineer?
With deep affection and admiration, I remember the moments when my father took us to visit the works under his supervision. The excitement welled up within me as I observed how he skillfully directed and supervised intricate projects, engaging with workers, and making critical decisions. The pivotal moment that solidified my choice to follow in his footsteps and pursue mechanical engineering occurred during a visit to the construction of a thermoelectric plant where my father was testing a new way of construction under the sea water. In that instance, I had no doubt that engineers were the architects of the world.
I never wavered in my choice of profession; it felt like a natural calling. Unlike my friends who entertained aspirations of becoming doctors or artists, my vocation was clear from a young age, and I never entertained thoughts of any other profession. Building, assembling things, and playing with my brother to create robots were activities I enjoyed since childhood, further cementing my passion for engineering.
What has been the most challenging project you’ve been involved with recently?
We recently completed a project for the sales room of a forthcoming high-rise luxury condominium in Brickell. Despite the project's relatively small scale, it necessitated meticulous coordination with architects, the design team, and contractors. Working within the constraints of an existing building, the design incorporated an area with audio-visual screens, posing a challenge in the complex spatial layout and air conditioning distribution to meet unique thermal load requirements. The distinctive approach our company adopted for this challenge proved both effective and interesting.
What makes a great engineer?
The ability to imagine finished projects, even without doing the calculations. Security when giving criteria to find the best solutions. Problem solving skills. Engineers are characterized by their passion and desire to find new and efficient solutions for all kinds of problems. Engineers must possess certain skills or qualities to help them perform their work; some of them include:
Paying close attention to details
Logical and analytical aptitude
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
That learning never ends; it is a perpetual journey. Given the ever-evolving nature of technology, engineering, and best practices in the field, it is crucial to maintain a willingness to consistently study and grow in your career.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
That I have a deep passion for nurturing my garden at home; taking care of my plants brings me immense joy and relaxation, especially when I return home from work. Additionally, I take pride in being the mother of a 19-year-old young man who, following our family tradition, is in his first year of studying Mechanical Engineering at FIU. He also dedicates two days a week to the first company I work for when I arrive in this country.
Both my son and I share a love for outdoor activities, including fishing, savoring good food, exploring new places, and, above all, spending quality time with our family and friends.