“It’s never too late to change”

As she celebrates three decades in the Talent Management area, Claudia De Conti’s career takes off in a new direction with her move to Salta to run the Human Resources and Community Relations departments. Here she looks back over her years with the company, in parallel to its expansion and even a few critical moments.

Everything’s happening all at once for Claudia De Conti, today the Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) Manager in Salta. In January 2024, as she was celebrating three decades of work at Tecpetrol, recollections and fond memories were colored with the promise of more new experiences. Leaving her office at headquarters in Buenos Aires, where she’s been occupied with global talent attraction strategies for many years, she’s moving to Aguaragüe, Salta, where she will be the new HRBP, with responsibilities for Community Relations and labor relations.

“I’m going to have a different role, which puts me in a learning position, something that I like,” Claudia says, in the transition to a new stage in her life.

A graduate in Educational Sciences, and the first generation to enroll in university in her family, Claudia joined Tecpetrol as a YP after completing the selection process for the Techint Group. When she was invited to fill in as an assistant in TE&C, she mentioned her interest in Human Resources.

Screen filters, a lot of papers and an old desktop PC, which is how Claudia started out in the Human Resources area. -

“In the interview at Tecpetrol, I told them that I was dating, that I’d bought a house... And that we were planning to get married! The guy just grabbed his head and looked down,” she says, imitating this gesture. Today she has been with Claudio, her husband, who is a math teacher, for 41 years and is very happy to accompany her to Salta: as he spent his childehood in Vespucio, the emblematic city of YPF’s main deposits.

Around the world

Although Claudia had had other jobs, as a teacher and administrator for instance, her first experience in Human Resources was at Tecpetrol, which supported her training path, helping her to grow in tandem with the company. “I started back in ‘94, when we were only present in Argentina: in Comodoro Rivadavia, Neuquén and Aguaragüe. Then in ’95, I went to Venezuela although in those first years I didn’t have any influence abroad,” she details.

Starting in 2000, in each new operation she was in charge of the initial take over phase. “I began in Camisea, Peru, where we were setting up new companies, in Mexico for Reynosa, then in Villahermosa in Ecuador in 2012. In 2014, we arrived in the United States, which was really exciting, quite a different context. We were incorporating people but we couldn't ask them basic questions like their date of birth because of local legislation.”

In 2017, with the Vaca Muerta project underway, “it was as if I were living in Neuquén,” she recalls, a process involving input from the entire country, going from 30 to 200 people in barely a year, with hours and hours of face-to-face interviews, and managing an entire team of recruiters. It was a huge challenge.

In the field. Claudia says that she was always highly dedicated to her work, and wanted to know what things were like at the operations.-

The future behind

A revolution. This is how Claudia defines the change she’s about to tackle, at 55 years old. “Not only have I never left Buenos Aires, but I’ve been living in the same house for 15 years, and it’s only three blocks from the previous one,” she details. While her eldest daughter of 28 lives abroad, her youngest, 25, is going to move in with her partner. And there are two cats traveling to Salta with her and her husband.

With one foot in each operation, at the end of 2023, Claudia attended both New Year's Eve parties. “In Aguaragüe, Eduardo Isasmendi, who was the Senior Manager and was moving to Alpha Lithium had just notched up 15 years at Tecpetrol. In his farewell speech he said to me, 'thank you for the opportunity'. He’d joined the company originally as a Summer Intern (PEV).

From there, with no stops, she jumped on the plane wearing her party dress to arrive at the event being held at Headquarters. “It was the last party!” There, she says, one of the guys from the Vice Presidency of Exploration and Development, Lucas Pons, approached her to thank her as he had always wanted to join Tecpetrol. “At this point in my history at Tecpe I don't think of it as the place where I work. I feel I am Tecpetrol. And Tecpetrol is us. It’s so much more than a company, it’s my entire life, I’ve spent my whole life here.”

Changing mentality

Over the last 30 years, of course, several challenges have arisen. “There was a moment, a long time ago, when I thought about quitting, which had to do with balancing motherhood and work, with that mental permission that women didn’t have before, when they tell you that you have to come back because they need you, something that doesn’t happen anymore.”

When she returned from her first pregnancy things were difficult, but “when I decided to have my second daughter I felt that I was ready in work terms,” she admits. This wasn't easy either, but a change of scenery allowed her to continue (at one point she thought “this is my new job”), and she’s applied the lesson learned in her subsequent meetings with young students about the role of women in industry. “Now there aren’t just a range of scheduled benefits but more acceptance of the things in life in general.”

New challenges. One of the last images of Claudia De Conti at Headquarters, in Buenos Aires. Now she’s off to Salta. -

We are Tecpe

When it comes to looking back over the years, one constant is the company’s values. “What’s always important is that we care about being good people. We are outstanding professionals, we work very hard, we have to be productive and good at what we do. That’s the bottom line, but you have to be good people, otherwise you won’t do well here,” she points out.

“What I like most about Human Resources is that the subject of your work is people,” she adds. “Incorporating talent and seeing how they develop during their career has always been satisfying to me, because ultimately it has to do with a good decision.”

At one point in this long history, of so much travel and many different destinations, Claudia considered that she might like to work at an operation, but in fact, that ship had sailed. “It just didn’t happen, and I don't think it will happen now.” So that's why, when this opportunity appeared out of the blue, it was a complete revolution. “I really wanted this type of position: it’s never too late for something new!”

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