José Villar (CPES) and João Vinagre (LIAAD)

José Villar (CPES)

“During September, José Villar developed high-quality work in different projects, with particular emphasis on the study of different models for the establishment and operation of energy communities, and electricity exchange markets between peers (peer-to- peer). In addition, and together with other CPES researchers, he played a key role in completing the real-environment demonstration of the European project EU-SysFlex”.

– CPES coordinators

Given the current context, what challenges did you face while carrying out your tasks?

Assuming that the context is the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the question focuses on the challenges and implications that the pandemic has had on our work, I believe that, as an institution, we have been brilliant in adapting to the restrictions and needs that the pandemic has imposed, with good availability of resources, flexibility and trust in people, important aspects that have contributed to maintaining a friendly and productive activity of our centre.

I also think that the energy sector (which is the one I know best) has, in fact, managed to adapt quite well to the pandemic. I believe that said adaptation led to a strong reaction to maintain or increase activity and involvement in projects – which, together with the continuous effort and institutional pressure to promote them (also, quite possibly, a consequence of the uncertainty generated by the pandemic), caused our activity to become much more intense and harder to keep, something that will probably remain a challenge.

Moving from more personal relationships to virtual ones, resorting to teleworking apps, has been another important challenge. For people already familiarised with the centres, it has certainly been simple, contrary to those who’ve just arrived at the institution. Their relationship with the current members of the work teams has proven to be a great challenge.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Whether I was able to overcome them or not, I don’t have a clear answer. I would say that we are managing to overcome them; I purposely used the plural because I don’t believe in individual initiatives – at least not too much, in my case -, as I need and appreciate the support of the people I work with regularly. In this sense, I can say that we’ve all had to dedicate many hours of work to address these challenges together – not only the colleagues who, like me, are supervising people, but also those who are under supervision, and trying to manage the pressure that supervisors impose them. Trying to keep a relationship as personal and frequent as possible, as well as strong motivation to try to make sure that no one is left waiting for answers, are simple, yet useful strategies.

Despite the many hours of work, respecting the private/personal life and adopting a minimum resting period is also an important strategy.

In addition to the previous points, I think that promoting collaboration among people, interconnecting working groups, and relying on the help of close co-workers and the support of the CPES coordinators are also relevant strategies to succeed and overcome challenges.

Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I’m lucky to enjoy working and doing research on the topics I’m involved in, and I appreciate working as a member of a team.

Before working at INESC TEC, I had to deal with many management activities. Now, I’m allowed to enjoy more technical work, even if we don’t always get the desired results; even so, I participate in some management duties – which, in moderation, allow one to share his/her experience and desire to improve the functioning of the teams and centres he/she is involved.

How do you comment on this nomination?

I’m grateful; but honestly, I don’t think I’m playing a better role than the people I work with – nor, certainly, the people I know best and admire the most, who are the ones I work with the most and trust completely. In fact, despite being older than many of my colleagues, I still learn a lot from them on many of the technical and management topics they know best, for whatever reason.

I try to do my job, as well as I can and with the resources available, and I appreciate this nomination; I’m happy to see that the coordinators value my performance, and this is also an incentive to try to improve, or at least to try to maintain my performance level.

However, I think I managed to convey the fact that, for me, collective work leads to the best results, so I’d like to share this nomination with the colleagues with whom I work on a regular basis.

And taking the concrete example mentioned in my case, I will not deny a great personal dedication to the EU-SysFlex project; yet this fundamental role in the demonstration process ought to be shared with all those involved, and who played key roles, both in the coordination of the project at INESC TEC, and in design, development and testing, towards maintaining the required level of excellence.

João Vinagre (LIAAD)

“The LIAAD coordinators would like to nominate João Vinagre, for the high-value work and his responsibility in the organisation of the DSAA 2021 international congress”.

– LIAAD coordinators

Given the current context, what challenges did you face while carrying out your tasks?

The main challenge was the harmonisation of all activities involving the digital platforms supporting the conference – which took place online. I’m talking about the official application of the virtual conference (including the programme), dozens of videos presenting the papers, posters, discussion forums, etc., as well as the management of three parallel sessions via Zoom, with different configurations depending on the type of session (keynotes, sessions dedicated to papers, tutorials, and panels, among others). We also had to address the participants’ requests through various channels. Ensuring that nothing failed was quite challenging.

How did you overcome these challenges?

With the help of several elements of the organisation team (mainly volunteers), and with the support of INESC TEC’s IT services (SAS and SRC).

Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I particularly enjoy learning and applying said knowledge.

How do you comment on this nomination?

Obviously, I appreciate it, but I must share it with the whole team, especially with the volunteers.

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