April 04, 2018
"We must reflect on our contribution to sustainability"
The president of the Engineering Week 2018, Gustavo Grobocopatel calls for engineers to have a broad view on the impact produced by agro-industry on the environment and productivity of ecosystems.

What will be the guidelines in which this new edition of the Engineering Week will take place?

The challenge is to reflect on what are the contributions of engineers fr om different perspectives to sustainability, taking as orientation the Objectivesof Sustainable Development (ODS) of the United Nations Organization (UN).

Why do you think it is important to deepen and debate these axes?

I believe that the times in which we live, of great transformations and turbulences, require a broader view on the impacts that produce our actions.

On a personal basis, what challenge do you feel you accept when leading an activity such as Engineering Week?

As an agronomist, it is an honor to occupy this space, since I do not believe in the limits between the professions. In our work today we have to be a few psychologists, accountants, lawyers, etc., but above all the engineer's look gives a different approach to the resolution of problems. My challenge is that: integrate from that approach.

Beyond the specific axes that will have the Engineering Week, what importance do these days have for the development of the profession?

I believe that these spaces of reflection and exchanges, of relational learning, contribute to human and professional development.

Once Engineering Week is over, what reflection or impression would you like the attendees to take?

Let there be a broader view of the impacts we produce on society, on the environment and, of course, on the productivity of the ecosystems where we live and act.

Do you think that the engineer should always dedicate time to retraining or training new skills or techniques?

Of course. All people must learn all their lives. Learn to learn and unlearn. And it is preferable to learn to be right.

Just as professionals must continue to be trained, learning and unlearning. Do you think it is important that the universities that train engineers also stimulate careers to incorporate new knowledge more quickly?

Of course. Formal education must adapt to new times and new knowledge about learning. In addition to the technical contents that are being modified. Capacity development requires a new approach in knowledge, skills and attitudes.

From your personal experience, what are the most revolutionary technological contributions that occurred in the last time in agricultural activity?

As in other activities, technological convergence has had a strong impact on agriculture. So far, biotechnology, direct seeding and newchemical molecules led that impact but we see that now nanotechnology, robotics, satellite, electronics, big data, IoT (internet of things) and machine learning, among others.

How do you imagine agricultural activity in the future?

I think that those technological innovations must be added to those that are made in the organizational and institutional fields, such as network organizations, globally integrated value chains and public private organizations, for example. All this will configure totally different spaces to those we are used to seeing. There will be robotic tasks and new ones that will require new skills in the talents.

Also taking advantage of your personal experience, what are the main environmental challenges that must be resolved or in which the engineer must work more? Who advises or is an agricultural producer?

Undoubtedly, the issue of global warming, water management, the impact of phytosanitaries, the reduction of deforestation based on territorial regulations, the management of waste and others will be the object of study and the search for solutions. Here the engineers will have a lot to say and do.

Does the country need more agronomists? Why?

We need more people trained for the challenges of what comes in all professions and fields of science and the arts. Not only is it a problem for more engineers, we do need them, but how they are prepared.

In the Investment Forum said that the country could double in 10 years the production of agrifood. How could that be achieved?

There are several opportunities for growth of primary production but also in the transformation of these raw maerias into more elaborated, processed products with longer value chains. In this sense there are very stimulating prospective analyzes in terms of impact on the GDP and the generation of work.

What is the main contribution that engineers can make to a nation like Argentina?

In a world that is transformed, engineers, the ingenious, are prepared to challenge what has already been done. We do it with our technical knowledge but above all with our ability to undertake, innovate and create.

Do you think that engineers occupy a leading role in the development of this country? Or, in any case, should he occupy a leading role? Why?

For the above reasons: we know how to be leaders and protagonists.

The current president is an engineer. As an engineer that you are, what tools or attributes do you understand that the president offers engineering? Or in any case, what engineering tools do you see that the president uses in his management?

It is true that we had in Argentina an "overdose" of presidents lawyers and that the training of engineer contributes with another look. There are countries where engineers are the majority in governments, China, without going any further. I think the contributions could be the orientation to results, to analyzes based on data, to mention some contributions. But again this is not the patrimony of just one profession. I think that the systemic, holistic view, 360 degrees, is more important than the profession. Hopefully, someday there will be an artist president or that in each of us there will be more the artistic.

Why do you suggest that all the professionals or people should flow more artistic? What do you understand that it brings to the person and to a country?

Artistic thinking allows to develop a better, more empathic and more efficient communication, it also allows to develop the ability to create and therefore innovate. These are all basic competencies for the 21st century.

How do you observe the development of national engineering within a globalized world like the current one?

In my experience, Argentine agronomists are highly valued all over the world. I personally participated in agricultural development processes in Uruguay and Brazil where the most important were led by Argentine engineers.

How central should new technologies be in the profile of future engineers?

I believe that technological training must be central, strong, profound. We engineers have that destiny, that commitment to society.

What identity or profile should the engineer of the future have?

Without leaving aside the technological training, we should have a broader and more integrated view. The idea of this Engineering Week is to contribute humbly with this challenge.

How important is it in the training of a new engineer to have soft skills, such as the ability to work as a team, to adapt to changes, to empathize with the other?

These issues are fundamental. We are not training technicians who do calculations, we should train leaders in the broadest and most specific sense.

Why did you study engineering? Would I make that decision again? Why?

I love the countryside and its people, the outdoors, the nature. Agronomic engineering was an excellent career to be trained in those interests. I would go back to study this career without doubts.

And what would you say to motivate a young man who wants to study some branch of engineering but hesitates to do it?

That does not doubt, thus it exists.

It is said that the engineer is essentially prepared to solve problems. Solving problems, smaller or bigger, can be a motor of life?

I think that in addition to solving problems, engineers must have the ability to find, framing, conceptualizing, modeling. This is very good for life to flow, much more if it makes us happy and full.

What weight or relevance was the fact that he is an engineer in the success of his company?

I believe that I could do many things in my company because I had knowledge that the rest did not have and that thanks to the career I studied. Then the path of professional development made me develop aspects related to other careers. In the end it is a matter of vocation to learn and to give what has been learned to society what defines relevance or not. Being an engineer gave him a character and a definite, particular imprint.

Innovative and recognized

Gustavo Grobocopatel is an agronomist. He was received at the University of Buenos Aires in 1984, where he was a teacher of Soil Management and Conservation. He currently chairs the Los Grobo Group, a company born in 1984 based on innovation and with presence in different areas of the agribusiness sector. He is a member of the executive committee of the Argentine Business Association, the Economic and Social Council of the Torcuato Di Tella University and the Production Council of Argentina. In 2007 he received the Argentine Creative Award, granted by the Círculo de Creativos de la Argentina; in 2008, the Platinum Konex to the Rural Entrepreneur of the Decade; in 2010, the award for Corporate Leadership in Communications, awarded by the Professional Council of Public Relations; and in 2012 the Siglo XXI University chose him as the Leading Businessman, among other recognitions.

Published in the 1128 edition (March 2018) of the magazine CAI (Argentine Center of Engineers):

Go back