Meet Our Make it Happen Project Manager: Sygifredo Cobos (P.Eng.)

Sygifredo Cobos founded Enovist in 2018 to support the planning, engineering, construction and commissioning of more sustainable infrastructures in Canada. With over two decades’ of project management expertise in the industry under his belt, Sygifredo brings a wealth of project management, project engineering, industry expertise and a great enthusiasm to help the industry to rebuild a better and cleaner energy future. In this interview we talk to him about how important accelerating the development and construction of more sustainable infrastructures our society.

Hi Sygifredo, could you start by telling us a bit about your professional background?

I started my career back in the year 2000 working as a R&D Engineer for Intevep-PDVSA, the R&D center of the national energy company of Venezuela, which was at the time one a top notch energy R&D hub in the world. Since then I have been in Brazil, the US, and I eventually came to Canada in 2007, after finishing my PhD in Mechanical Engineering at PUC-Rio in Brazil.

And what initially attracted you to the industry in Canada?

Before I was finishing my PhD in Mechanical Engineering in Brazil, I was being invited to stay at PUC-Rio LMMP to lead and support joint projects with the Energy Sector. However, things just sort of happened, and in one of many conversations being had at the time with other parties, I engaged with Alberta Innovates (previously Alberta Research Council) in Edmonton and before I had finished my PhD in 2007, I received an offer to come here to manage projects within an energy industry consortium. This would involve working on project management, engineering, design, new technologies and process improvement evaluations.

I was eager to get closer to the industry, and the Unit I would be involved with had an Industry Consortium with most of the main players in the energy sector, so this was a difficult offer to put down. So, things moved sort of fast and within a blink of an eye I was immigrating to Canada in 2007. It was not an easy decision, both Brazil and Canada are great countries and I was leaving behind other great things as well. But I am so far incredibly thankful and happy with the choice I made.

What was your evolution after you came to Canada?

After I adapted to being able to go outside on winter with a lot of layers of clothes on (laughing), I kept an eagerness to keep supporting the industry and technology sector. So eventually I, joined a heavily funded startup in Calgary and rapidly evolved to serve as their Development Manager. Working for them I supported and led several field pilot projects, including securing and leading a cornerstone project from concept to the plant construction with a major energy operator in Alberta.

At this point, it was pretty clear to me that I had to keep doing this, that this is my mission in the world, and that I need to facilitate this expertise to the industry as much as possible, and keep learning and evolving as fast as I can to help to build a more sustainable world.

What are some of the specific challenges that Enovist is helping the industry in Canada to overcome?

Having worked on all the stages that take to bring an idea to construction and full field implementation, I have learned invaluable things that I feel we need to make available to the industry to facilitate the development and adoption of more sustainable solutions to rebuild a better future.

So, usually, project owners come to us either with a concept plan, and ask for our expertise to convert it into a turnkey delivery and add maximum value to all stakeholders. Bottom line is increased sustainability and cleaner energy solutions. We have worked from early stages of planning, through engineering design and upscaling to field pilot project construction, commissioning and testing, so we can see dots connected between the different stages of delivery. Bringing a new infrastructure to full implementation in an efficient manner, requires the right expertise and an integrated approach.

Questioning and understanding underlying fundamentals of the project execution through all the stages, make the difference required to make these developments a sustainable and economic reality. We fit pretty well to help into this scenario.

To achieve excellent project management, part of our process involves constant learning, asking good questions to both the owner, suppliers, the operators, other relevant parties involved, and discovering unknown unknowns, finally using our expertise to manage, connect the dots and make things happen. Teamwork and management skills are critical, so we bring our expertise to make things happen and maximize value to all the stakeholders involved.

What would you be doing if you had not chosen this path?

I have tried some things that I do not excel at, like playing guitar, but that I practiced, and I do reasonably well and I genuinely enjoy. But even before I got out to the real world, I always have had this strong call and passion to do what I do these days, I just needed to listen to it. So, nowadays I have my hobbies for relaxation.

That’s great. Can you tell us what else you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy hiking, reading non-fiction books, and listening to my daughters tell me all their amazing achievements and stories.