Environmental consultancy firm Amphos 21 has offices in Spain, Chile and Peru and offers scientific and strategic environmental consulting to the nuclear, mining, water resources, sustainability and oil and gas sectors.
Since its inception in 1994, Amphos 21 has been constantly growing, particularly since joining the RSK group in January last year.
We speak to Amphos 21 Chief Executive Officer Lara Duro about her 11 years at the helm, and what effect the pandemic has had on the business.
“It is difficult to describe a typical day really, as nowadays I am always in front of the laptop, but dealing with very different types of subjects,” says Lara who is based in Barcelona.
“Once I get up and make myself visible, I look at the main news of the day, check the news on the nuclear market, answer emails and usually have different meetings along the day.
“Days can be very different as there are always subjects to deal with that you never imagined before. Meetings can be with clients, collaborators: different teams of people. During my day, I tackle different subjects like management, company organisation, project work, client meetings and others.”
“My work is never boring or monotonous and there are always new challenges that arise. After work, I do different things during the week, depending on the day – I take French or yoga lessons and try to attend at least one webinar a week on different subjects of interest for me such as coaching, nuclear developments, negotiation skills and others,” explains Lara.
Amphos 21 has only been part of RSK for just over a year, and it was a year that Lara found extremely interesting, learning to work in a large organisation the size of RSK.
“I have been managing director of the company since 2011 and have always kept some time to work for clients,” she says. “Now, as the company grows, this is more and more difficult and I devote more time to management tasks. I enjoy meeting and discussing with people, as I am convinced that this is the best way to learn.
The best parts of my job are people, people and people. I also like having the opportunity to concentrate on a difficult technical or management problem and think about ways around it.
“The best parts of my job are people, people and people. I also like having the opportunity to concentrate on a difficult technical or management problem and think about ways around it.
“At Amphos 21 we are around 220 people but the management team I mostly work with is six people,” she adds.
Like in most companies, workers in Amphos 21 have had to adjust their way of working because of the global pandemic.
Travelling used to be a big part of Lara’s work, but now most of her meetings are conducted virtually or in the office 25 km away from her home.
“The pandemic has affected a lot,” says Lara. “I used to travel very frequently to visit clients, collaborators, attending conferences and courses, visiting other Amphos 21 offices…now I stay at home or travel to the office nearby. At the beginning of the pandemic, I enjoyed very much being at home, but for some months now I have started to miss travelling, meeting old friends and having discussions with a broader set of people face-to-face. Technology and screens will never be a substitute for real people.”
Fortunately, working virtually does not affect the business as everyone has developed and got used to a new way of working.
“We are now used to screens – but they are too much for me,” admits Lara. “Sometimes, as travelling is now not needed to go to meetings, they are so abundant in my agenda that I do not have time to stretch my legs between consecutive meetings. I definitely think ‘screen management’ is something to improve upon.”
As for the future of Amphos 21, the business is still going strong in its 28th year and Lara is looking forward to exploring more opportunities and challenges along the way.
“Amphos 21 is in a very interesting moment,” she says. “We are growing at a very good pace and have access to new business opportunities that will enable diversification and new interesting challenges.
“We hope to grow in our three main market sectors: mining, nuclear and water and infrastructure, and we’re exploring synergies with other RSK companies that is at the same time challenging and interesting.”