EurGeol of the month: Andrea Gillarduzzi

“European Geologist of the month” is a section of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we ask one of the European Geologist title holders to tell us about his professional experiences and which role the title has played for his career. This month we talked to Andrea Gillarduzzi, member of the Geological Society of London (GSL). He is a geotechnical engineer and engineering geologist with over 18 years of international experience, working for consultants and contractors and as researcher, predominantly of large scale, high profile building and infrastructure projects.

Name: Andrea Gillarduzzi
EurGeol title number: 596
Country: Italy
In which country do you currently work? – United Kingdom
In which field of geology do you work? – Engineering geology, Geotechnical Engineering

What inspired you to become a geologist? – 
I was born and brought up in the Italian Alps and, as a child, I developed an interest in understanding the environment surrounding me, in particular the local geology. When I was a teenager, a family friend was working as a geological engineer in tunnelling design and construction internationally and gave me the idea of studying for a degree in engineering geology. Since completing the five years university course, I have worked for consultants, contractors and as a researcher in the geological and geotechnical engineering fields.

How many fellow students did you have? – Although the first year of the 5 years BSc+MSc in geology I attended in Italy was attended by approximately 150 students, less than 20% completed the course. The MSc I took at Imperial College in London was attended by just over 10 students.

There are fewer women working in geology than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in geology? – This situation is a real shame but the sad reality is that some employers remain wary of employing female geologists and this might be one of the causes discouraging women attending degrees in geosciences. Having said this, over the past decade, the number of women working in engineering geology/geotechnical engineering has progressively increased and things are changing quite quickly. There are probably more opportunities for women in consultancy than there are in working for contractors or carrying out field-based work.

Which field of geology did you study in particular? – Engineering geology/geotechnical engineering

In which sector(s) did/do you work? – I am presently working as director of geotechnical engineer/engineering geologist within an engineering consultancy which specialises in infrastructures (tunnels and underground works, ports and maritime, bridges, highway, etc.) and buildings.

What do you currently do in your job? Could you describe an average day? – My present position is director of the geotechnical department of the consultancy firm I am working for. My job is very diverse and might include desk studies;  ground and groundwater risk identification; geotechnical preliminary and detailed design/analysis (soil, weak and hard rock); expert reviews; forensic engineering work; technical and project management of geotechnical and large multi-disciplinary engineering projects; procurement of services; preparation of technical and commercial proposals; preparation of tender documents and tender evaluation; contract management; and business development.

What’s your favourite part of your job? – The most interesting part of my job is being involved from inception and concept design of infrastructure schemes, to desk studies and investigation followed by design, construction, supervision, monitoring and, unfortunately, sometimes claims. The construction industry, by its very own nature, is a positive and optimistic environment where knowledgeable and enthusiastic people can thrive.

Why should young people consider a career in geosciences? – A career in geosciences has the potential to be really fulfilling. Geoscience covers a very broad spectrum of knowledge and therefore the possibility of employment in a range of different industries (e.g. research, oil and gas, mining, civil engineering, environmental, etc.). Employers in other industries also value the capability of geoscientists of “thinking in time” (i.e. understand how events had developed and might develop in time).

What kind of personal qualities do you need as a geoscientist? – Investigative mind, enthusiastic, focused, professional and numerically skilled. The last point is quite important; in my experience, there is often the perception that geoscientists do require a lesser degree of numerical skills than, for instance, geotechnical engineers. This has unfortunately attracted students who, on completion of their degrees, might have difficulties in finding employment.

Could you explain when and why you applied for the European Geologist title? – When I started to work internationally, I struggled to have my Italian geologist chartership title recognised internationally. For this reason, I applied to European Geologist that helped to “certify” my professionalism and facilitated in finding employment.

Did you already work abroad? If yes, could you tell us about your experiences abroad? – I have worked abroad for virtually my entire career, mainly in Europe, Africa, Middle and Far East. My first job abroad was when I was 25 in Uganda, DRC and South Sudan for two years in the fields of hydrogeology/water supply and construction project management. Over the past 18 years I have worked on design and construction projects in over 30 countries.

What does the European Federation of Geologists represent for you and what do you expect from our association? – The European Federation of Geologists is the only body promoting the professions of geology throughout Europe and raising public awareness of the importance of geoscience to society. My hope is that the EFG will be able to establish an even more effective free movement of national professional titles, including common and consistent degree of professionalism and ethics.

Would you advise fellow geologists to become a member of a professional association? – I believe it is quite fundamental for geologists to be part of both reputable national and trans-national professional bodies as those are the best suited entities to represent, improve and safeguard the standards of the profession.


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