Joana Rosado, Técnico alumna (Industrial Engineering and Management at Taguspark campus) and currently project manager at ASML is a born leader. Her father’s international career made her realise that there are no insurmountable frontiers. She recalls the ups-and-downs of her student life at Técnico and how it influenced her professional career. She has been working at ASML for over 5 years, where she has held various positions. Currently she is Project Manager.
Joana Rosado was only 7 years old when her father was offered a job in the Netherlands and her life completely changed. “I had to learn English as my first language, and Dutch as second. I had to make new friends and adapt to a different culture in a new country. I remember having colleagues from different parts of the world: South Korea, Egypt, South Africa, Canada and I have always been attracted to this multiculturalism”, she says. After 3 years, her father was invited to work in Brazil.
She lived in Brazil for 5 years, and continued to attend an international school with colleagues from different cultures and backgrounds. “During my school years I have always been interested in mathematics, physics and art. I felt challenged not only by logic and problem-solving, but also by the creativity involved” recalls Joana Rosado.
When she had to choose a university course, she was already living in Portugal – where she finished secondary school – she had no doubt in choosing Engineering. “Looking back, I am sure that it had a lot to do with my father’s career, who studied engineering at Técnico, because it had always been very important to me”, she stresses. However, the decision about what branch of Engineering to pursue was not easy. “I felt that I did not want to specialize in a single branch. I was looking for something more comprehensive that could give me greater freedom of choice in the job market”, says Joana Rosado. “I soon realised that Industrial Engineering and Management was the perfect course for me” she adds.
She recalls Técnico as a roller coaster “with ups and downs, with a lot of adventure, the academic demand and the many study nights at Taguspark campus library. I also remember the various projects and team presentations. I still keep in touch with some friends”, she shares. According to Joana Rosado “the experience of studying at Técnico is a personal testing, which in one way or another, always contribute to the development of some personal skills that are decisive for the future”. The alumna highlights the resilience, creativity, cooperation and discipline “required for the successful completion of the courses”.
Joana Rosado took the course in the midst of the economic crisis, so she considered the possibility of working abroad. “Just as then, my personal growth and my own experiences as the daughter of someone with an international career were crucial in the various decisions that brought me where I am today”, she says.
Pursuing the dream of an international career with determination
A few years later, during her master’s degree, she decided to do her dissertation abroad. After an intensive search of information on the websites of top engineering schools in Europe, she became aware that “two engineering schools in the Netherlands were organising job fairs”. She did not hesitate and went there.
“I visited TUe Eindhoven and TUe Delft. If I said that I spoke with almost all the company representatives present at these fairs, I would not be exaggerating”, she recalls. Her approach was simple and straightforward: “Hi, I’m Joana and I flew from Portugal to be here today to talk to you! I am looking for an opportunity to write my Master’s Dissertation and I am willing to go anywhere in the world”. She returned home with hundreds of business cards. “I sent my CV to all people I met at the fairs. After a few weeks I received a proposal to do my thesis at a Dutch company called VDL ETG, based in Eindhoven”, she says.
In February 2015, the Técnico alumna went to the Netherlands to start a new challenge. “As soon as I updated my LinkedIn profile I started to receive several contacts from Dutch recruiters with job offers. I confess that, at the time, I found it strange, since I hadn’t even finished the course. I asked them to contact me in a few months, after finishing my thesis”, she recalls. When she was almost finishing her thesis, she contacted one of these recruiters to show her interest in entering the Dutch job market. “We had an interview via Skype the very next day. The recruiter told me that there was a vacancy for Industrial Engineer at a company called ASML, which I have never heard of”, she shares.
She quickly became aware that ASML is a Dutch B2B company, a world leader in innovation in the semiconductor industry, providing the world’s largest chip manufacturers with everything they need (software, hardware and services) for mass production of silicon patterns through lithography. “This is a large company, with more than 20,000 people of 123 different nationalities and with a revenue of 10 billion euros a year”, says the alumna. “This was undoubtedly the right place for me, and it fitted my ambition to pursue an international career”, she adds. Two days later she had an interview at ASML, and after three days she signed the first employment contract.
The ability to turn obstacles into opportunities
She started her career at ASML in the Research and Development (R&D) department as an Industrial Engineer. “I was able to use and relate various knowledge to solve challenges”, she says. “I recognise that this ability to combine scientific, technological and management knowledge was acquired at Técnico and it was the key to my success in this position: my studies helped me to deal with complex issues that involve a high degree of uncertainty and very demanding delivery plans”, adds the alumna.
After two years of great learning, collaboration with several colleagues in multiple departments and different specializations and business travels around the world to visit clients, Joana Rosado felt that she needed a new challenge. “Deep down, I felt that I needed a new challenge to keep me motivated”, she says.
She started exploring other R&D positions. “It became clear to me that leadership positions, which involved the management of highly complex systems / organisations – people, dates, work and execution, planning and adjustment, was what made me feel fulfilled”, she explains.
Therefore, as soon as she knew that there was a vacancy to lead the Automation team of the project of which she belonged, she decided to apply. “It is important to note that I am talking about an industry and, in my specific case, a department where, unfortunately, the female share is low. Furthermore, at the time I was 26 so I was considered very young and inexperienced”, she says.
However, she didn’t let any barriers stop her from achieving her goal and she decided to make her own “pitch” to the people with more power and higher decision-making. “I explained my ideas, the processes that were missing or that needed particular attention, and how I would help the team to close those‘gaps’”, she recalls. After a series of interviews, the good news knocked on her door: she had been chosen. “It became clear to me that my ambition, determination and skills were recognised once again despite the various obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome! This cemented my vision and the way I contemplate life, turning obstacles into opportunities”, she stresses.
In two years her team has grown from 7 to 25 members. “We were able to introduce automation in production lines in order to maximize output. We established new product development processes, in a dynamic way and involving a large number of stakeholders”, she highlights. “Once again, I have no doubt that the skills developed at Técnico were essential to achieve these good results, which allowed to change existing methods, execution methods and business organisation”, she stresses. Consequently, this experience “got me motivated to continue pursuing challenges and to further develop my leadership skills”.
At the moment, Joana Rosado is 28 and she is project manager of a new-generation specific module developed by ASML. “I manage a team of nearly 70 people and I am responsible for coordinating the development and delivery of this module, which will be part of the final product”. “Challenges abound!” she says, smiling.
The secrets to a successful career
According to the project manager, “the ability to find my purpose” has been essential to her successful career. “This requires constant introspection – it’s very important to be critical of ourselves – in order to effectively understand what motivates me and why”, she says. “This self-knowledge is crucial because it gives me more control over my own behaviours, ambitions and decisions that bring me satisfaction, and allows me to adjust them to the context”, she says.
“Be a doer, not a thinker” – the Técnico alumna gives special emphasis to this motto because she feels that if she were a thinker, she would not be where she is today. “I am well aware that with all the obstacles that I had to face, I would probably have been in a ‘limbo of indecision’ instead of making decisions and taking action”, she says. “Thus, I must also say that I trust my instincts and my decision-making ability – I take action based on them” she adds.
According to the Técnico alumna there are many benefits of informal contacts within the business world, with management board members, which will allow the creation of contact networks and exchange of experiences. She encourages this practice in her daily life: “from time to time, I try to arrange informal meetings with colleagues at ASML, with executive positions, with whom I feel greater affinity or who inspire me”, she shares. People often express surprise, but show their availability. “This type of actions also allows to expand networking, which I believe is essential for a successful career”, she highlights.