Q&A with Engineering Manager Natasha Pineda

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Natasha Pineda, Engineering Manager
Natasha Pineda, Engineering Manager

How did you get into the industry as a stationary engineer?

Funny you ask, this was always the first question I was asked throughout my apprenticeship. I was at the right place at the right time. I was working retail as an assistant operations manager for a retail space in the building I ended up doing my apprenticeship in. The main tenant of the building was a fashion design college filled with mostly young female students and the Chief thought it made sense to hire a female engineer. I was a utility engineer for a year and then accepted in the local 39 apprenticeship program.

Why do you think you were successful with a minimal background in the trade?

I think my upbringing allowed me to excel, there was no other way. I was raised by a strong immigrant single mother with three other siblings. Early on, I had a natural intuitiveness to be proactive and hands-on.

What did you enjoy doing most when you were working in the field?

All kinds of electrical work.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of the industry for women?

Other than not having many women in the trade? While a lot of young people see tech as the only career path, they don’t know, especially young women, that a job in the engineering trade is attainable and rewarding. The traditionally male dominated trade is understandably slowly gaining traction among women. This goes back even further as to how we raise girls, usually guiding them away from subjects that “only boys do.” Most women were never even introduced to handling simple hand tools which is a disservice to both sexes. Another challenge for the industry is finding young and qualified people to join the trade and service all of the new real estate growth. A large number of today’s highly skilled engineers are retiring out of the trade and this new generation has big shoes to fill.

What was your first job?

My first job was at a ‘Jungle Fun and Adventure’ in the SoMa district in San Francisco. We hosted birthday parties, made pizza and ran the arcade. Definitely a fun first job for a sixteen year old.

What are you most excited to do with your current role?

I love seeing what new tools and technology Engineers are using to operate buildings. While I like seeing new technology in action,  I do get excited about sites with original equipment. There’s nothing like seeing old Engineering stations filled with a wall of gauges, meters, and hand painted equipment signage. I definitely have a soft spot for an organized tool wall. The photographer in me gets excited being able to have access to things that are not open to the public, especially all the great rooftop views in downtown San Francisco.

Who is an influential thinker that inspires you and why?

So many influences at the top of my head: John Waters, David Lynch, David Sedaris, Kurt Vonnegut, Barry Mcgee, Margaret Kilgallen, Vivian Maier, Tina Fey and Jessica Hagedorn. I guess the tie that binds them together is that they kept true to themselves even if that means staying weird. Most had/have a sense of humor about them and in the process produced beautiful works. They broke out of common normalcy and prevailed. Forging careers in arenas where they were probably once told to quit and put their energy elsewhere.

Able Services is the USA’s largest family-owned provider of engineering, janitorial, and facility solutions. Serving over more than one billion sq. ft. Able delivers the most innovative and forward thinking services in the industry.

  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Green Cleaning & GreenAble Sustainability Program
  • Recycling & Zero Waste Programs
  • Energy Procurement
  • Safety Training

Since 1926 Able has consistently delivered world-class service at a competitive value, thereby achieving significant cost savings and efficiencies for our clients.

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