Habib Shafik: “Speaking up for a project”

08.06.2020

Project management is above all the art of making things happen and finding ways that reliably lead to the goal. This requires an understanding of the respective environment, being a good team player as well as smart and visionary, and having the courage to take responsibility in difficult situations. This is also the claim of Habib Shafik, who has now committed himself even more firmly to TSCNET Services: At the beginning of 2019, Habib joined us for 18 months as a seconded employee of our shareholder TenneT Germany, and now he has joined TSCNET Services directly as Senior Project Manager in the Portfolio Management Business Unit. For us, this is a welcome opportunity for an in-depth talk.

How did you first hear about TSCNET when you were still at TenneT?

In different ways. On the one hand, through discussions with colleagues, on the other hand, in the company’s internal communication. At a meeting with my former manager, I had discussed the future role of the European Regional Security Coordinators. For him, the influence of the RSC was supposed to increase over time and at some point TSOs would even completely hand over system operation to one coordinated service provider. I took this fascinating vision with me from the conversation. At that time, I already knew that if you work for a transmission system operator like TenneT, you can go to TSCNET for a year and a half. However, as it seemed to focus on technicians and grid specialists, I at first did not really think about a secondment at all. My decision came much later when it became clear that TSCNET was also hiring project managers.

When you started at TSCNET in 2019: Which expectation turned out to be true and which not?

The vision of the immense importance of an RSC has already been fulfilled. And our work is steadily growing in importance, as recent political developments regarding future mandatory RSC services show. Fortunately, my original vision of this company as a place specifically designed for engineers has not proved true. In reality, the employees bring with them vastly different backgrounds and also various personalities, and everyone contributes to doing great work in a variety of areas.

When you look back on your time at TSCNET so far, which project are you particularly proud of?

To answer this question, let me first define successful project management. In my opinion, success does not mean that every originally planned milestone must be reached, nor that the intended schedule must always be meticulously adhered to. Ultimately, a successful project is defined by the satisfaction – first and foremost of the customer and the stakeholder, but also of the project management team. If the result is satisfactory and proves itself in practice, the project has been successful. In this sense, if I may say so, I am particularly proud of a project that was not completed. This probably sounds a bit weird, so let me explain it briefly. The development of the project was accompanied by a number of unforeseen, external factors, which led to high monthly project costs without satisfactory results. To prevent further damage to all parties involved, a courageous step was taken, and it was decided by mutual agreement to terminate the project. Today it is clear that this decision saved us all a lot of time and money and was more beneficial to the company and our customers than to complete the project by hook or by crook. This would not have been possible without a great team and a management that takes transparency and integrity seriously.

What do you think about TSO employees working at TSCNET today?

It is a great idea as it will allow each programme participant to broaden their skills, horizons and understanding of energy infrastructure in Europe. However, I believe that this exchange needs to be promoted and facilitated much more. As a TSO staff member, you have to be very proactive to get information about it. This is not only about potential vacancies, but also about the various administrative steps involved in the process of filling a vacancy, such as travel costs or bureaucratic issues. It would be nice if this knowledge were more widely available and promoted in a transparent way, so that standardised processes make it easier for all parties involved in the posting and everyone knows what they are getting into.

What does it take to work at TSCNET Services?

In my opinion these three factors are the most important: Intercultural competence, initiative, and motivation. This also fits in with the question about my motives for signing directly with TSCNET now that the 18 months are over. The more personal environment here allows a much greater commitment than a large organization. Here you can really help shape and make a difference. This freedom also means more responsibility for each of us. I personally enjoy this very much, especially the fact that colleagues back each other up to realize new ideas together. I also want to emphasize the corporate culture. Colleagues are very supportive, cooperative, and motivated to create opportunities where others might see a dead end. In addition, the enormous diversity and internationality are a great source of inspiration and enrich everyday work enormously.

What are your plans here?

In my view, the advantages of good project management are still far too little known. As a result, many resources are not used effectively. I see our business unit in the responsibility to change this. The success and efficiency of every project undertaken at TSCNET is the foundation for successful service provision. We want to create understanding for our work and make it clear where we can provide effective support. We have launched a small internal information campaign in 2019 for that purpose. In addition, we introduced the bimonthly “Meet the Business Unit Portfolio Management” offer at the beginning of this year. Our co-workers can ask us anything they want to know and get concrete help from us.

And when it comes to actual project management: what is the biggest challenge?

As someone who is not from the field of electrical engineering, I would say understanding technical terms and their implications. It is also important to keep abreast of the latest regulatory developments so that you can plan projects accordingly. In short, I work proactively to stay up to date and understand all changes in my field.

Our last question relates to what is happening around the world right now, Habib: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?

To ensure that we can also do our work well from home, we have further standardized our communication processes. This has worked extremely well so far. Although I am pleased that everything went great despite the difficult circumstances, I am very much looking forward to seeing my colleagues again in the office and to working with them again personally soon.

Habib Shafik, Senior Project Manager in the Portfolio Management Business Unit

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Skills with a good dose of laugh

07.04.2020

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” is a well-known proverb from Pakistan. That should not be a problem for Adam Ali, the new Junior Project Management Officer, who has joined the Business Unit Portfolio Management at TSCNET Services.

Adam is originally from Pakistan and is excited about the amazing challenges in the energy industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the Lahore University of Management Sciences in the second largest city in Pakistan, and subsequently completed an MBA degree in International Management in Pforzheim, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. He has more than three years of experience in project management and has a strong affinity for IT systems and software. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he worked in Lahore University of Management Sciences as part of the programme management team, taking care of finances, project coordination and process alignment.

Quite a lot of practice already
His experience also extends to the corporate world: Adam not only interned in project management at Allianz Technology SE, but also wrote his MBA thesis on agile and hybrid methodologies in cooperation with the company. In addition, he joined the NBHX Trim Group as a working student in the programme management department and helped to digitise cross-departmental communication strategies to optimise internal information exchange.

At TSCNET Services, Adam will use his skills to help the multinational team ensure smooth operations. His enthusiasm for the energy industry will help to achieve this. With his knowledge of project management in agile and international environments, he will support the new colleagues primarily in process optimisation and standardisation.

Apart from the business side of things, Adam is an avid traveller and hiker who loves to entertain people with his sense of humour. Again, there is a saying in Pakistan that suits this: “Do good and throw it in the river.” With Adam, it’s quite possible that the Bavarian Isar River feels almost like the legendary Indus, thanks to a smile amongst coworkers.

Adam Ali has been hired as Junior Project Management Officer

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Supporting secure power supply despite corona crisis

20.03.2020

For weeks, the world has been watching with great concern the news about the novel coronavirus and the disease COVID-19. Together with the electricity transmission system operators (TSOs) we are ensuring the secure operation of the electricity transmission infrastructure in Europe and are taking the situation with great seriousness. Therefore, we have taken a number of preventive measures to protect employees and visitors from infection with the virus, while at the same time ensuring that all key areas of our business and system operations remain fully operational.

These precautionary measures are reassessed daily and, if necessary, expanded and supplemented. In addition to measures to protect health, these include precautions that severely restrict contact between employees and with other groups of people, as well as additional measures that restrict access to our offices in Munich. Special precautions apply to employees in particularly sensitive areas such as our Regional Coordination Room.

As with any infectious disease, everyone benefits if individuals take precautions. We therefore appeal to all employees and partners to protect themselves and others. If you have any questions or need help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

In operation around the clock! In view of the situation with the novel coronavirus, the management of TSCNET Services has decided to take a number of precautions.

Linkup
> Visit WHO coronavirus pages (html)
> Visit European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control pages (html)
> Visit Robert Koch Institute on situation in Germany, in German (html)

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New financial manager gives a good account

02.03.2020

At TSCNET Services, we are committed to providing the best possible service for our shareholding transmission system operators (TSOs). International understanding is thus not actually our primary corporate objective, but we are nevertheless encouraged by the perception of our new Senior Finance & Reporting Manager in the Corporate Services business unit, Houssein Ben Boujemaa. We were already able to recruit him in September last year. When asked what particularly intrigued him about TSCNET in addition to his personal career prospects, Houssein mentions the fact that we are a company with a good 60 employees, but above all 28 nationalities. We can only say: Welcome aboard, Houssein, and great that you have already added some additional facets to our diversity.

35-year-old Frenchman Houssein holds a master’s degree in Marketing and Applied Management from the IDRAC Business School in Paris and a master’s degree in International Business from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce et de Gestion de Paris. He has gained professional experience in various sectors. For example, he served as a Business Controller for France for the medical and travel security services company International SOS. At EBI SA in Paris, an affiliate of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, he oversaw the global corporate revenue planning and control for Africa and handled trade finance and loan syndication for the sub-Saharan Africa commodity market. And in the IT sector, Houssein was responsible for EMEA operations at the German branch of the computer software and service company PTC in Unterschleißheim near Munich.

For TSCNET, Houssein has been working successfully to improve financial processes and financial management since his start with us. Of course, he appreciates not only the international working environment at our premises, but also the dynamic growth of the company to which he wants to actively contribute. We are pleased that our finance area is already giving a good account of itself!

Houssein Ben Boujemaa is our new Senior Finance & Reporting Manager in the Corporate Services business unit

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Enterprise Architecture from Colombian Caribbean

04.12.2019

Miguel Ospina, the new Enterprise Architect in our Service Development Business Unit, is originally from Barranquilla, Colombia. You don’t know that place? Maybe you do: The famous singer Shakira sang about her birthplace in her worldwide No. 1 hit “Hips don’t lie” and in the work of the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, who spent part of his childhood and many years as a journalist in this city of millions in the northwest of the country, there are many descriptions of the lively commercial and industrial city, which is also known as one of the world’s largest carnival strongholds.

But back to Miguel! The 32-year-old has a bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering and a postgraduate degree in Enterprise Software Architecture. He then received the TOGAF certification (The Open Group Architecture Framework) and earned his master’s degree in Business Information Technology in 2018. As an Enterprise Architect at TSCNET Services, he strives to bring best practices for this discipline to life across the enterprise.

He has the experience to do this: Previously, Miguel worked as a Software Architect for an insurance related company and defined the roadmap and architecture of various relevant products such as underwriting and claims systems. Most recently, he worked for an airline as an Enterprise Architect leader and was responsible for business areas such as customer experience, marketing, and e-commerce. This also involved shaping the roadmap and governance for these areas, such as information systems and technology, and important future projects, such as digital transformation and e-commerce.

Miguel, a travel enthusiast, appreciates the fact that he is familiar with various industries and can now apply this experience to the energy sector and help shape TSCNET’s future architecture. We wish him all the best for his career with us and look forward to his work – fortunately, it does not have to be another world hit or a Nobel Prize in the end.

Miguel Ospina is the new Enterprise Architect in our Service Development Business Unit

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Honourable move to the Swiss customer

25.11.2019

While around 150,000 people with Portuguese citizenship live in Germany, almost twice as many live in the much smaller country of Switzerland. Usually we do not have the slightest problem with this at TSCNET Services in Munich, but now another Portuguese is moving to Switzerland, whom we will miss very much here as a first-class employee and great co-worker: Mário Martins, Senior Business Analyst in our Service Development Business Unit. He will join our client and shareholder Swissgrid and work in Aarau 38 km west of Zurich as a specialist for Capacity & Congestion Management. Chances are good that he will be collaborating with his former colleagues from TSCNET there, so “it’s not a goodbye, but a see you later,” Mário assures with a smile.

“I thank TSCNET and its employees for almost 5 wonderful years in this company,” Mário continues. “It is a great organisation to work in, and I am sure it will remain on its growth path and will become increasingly important as a pillar of European power transmission. And I personally feel nothing but honoured to have made a small contribution to this.”

He goes with a lot of good memories in his luggage. “I particularly liked the international, young, lively atmosphere in the company. The fact that most employees come from abroad and are far away from their families and friends also brings the team together outside office hours and leads to close friendships.”

He also appreciated management’s commitment to employee well-being and opportunities for personal development. He always felt that his voice was heard and respected and that his work was valued. Comradeship has always been a top priority and colleagues have always supported him when necessary. “I want to tell them that it was a great pleasure to work with them,” he says. He should know by now at the latest: The people here feel the same way. Despite all the melancholy about Mário’s departure, everyone wishes him all the best and much success with Swissgrid. It is good for everyone that Zurich is only 3 hours away from Munich.

TSCNET Services is saying goodbye to Mário Martins, who joins the Swissgrid

Linkup
> Visit Swissgrid webpage (html)

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Reaching the goal quickly with calculated risk

22.11.2019

Anyone who knows the Munich premises of TSCNET Services has probably also seen the photo wall with private photos of almost all employees. When the answer to the question “Do you have a photo for our wall, too?” is “Yes, but only one with me hanging head over feet out of a helicopter in the clouds”, you might think of a joke, but with him it’s none: Péter Szőcs, the new Data Center Support Specialist at TSCNET, not only has special professional skills, but also quite special hobbies. A native of Romania with Hungarian and German roots, he likes it fast and used to be an extremely successful professional motorcycle racer competing against the world’s best. Today he rather wants to go high and enjoy free fall as a skydiver. Here, too, he has an impressive international network and is well known on the scene.

For him, his personal and professional motivation is described by the fact that if he stands two and a half miles above the ground in an open aircraft door and can take a step into the empty space himself, then he could do anything. How can this be understood? Well, there is a saying circulating in the skydiving community that hints at the special magic of this sport: “For those who jump, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not jump, no explanation is possible.”

High speed and an experienced handling of risks also benefit Péter at work. In addition to studying history and journalism, he holds a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics and computer science. He has worked as a senior IT technical consultant on unified communication and contact centre solutions, e.g. for BMW, and as the Head of IT/Networking of the Transylvania International Film Festival.

Today he sees himself as a motivated and versatile professional with many years of IT experience, who is always looking forward undertaking new and exciting challenges. Together with his colleagues from the IT Infrastructure Services team, he wants to integrate and implement solutions that help TSCNET employees become more efficient in their business operation to increase productivity. “I want to be an active part of something that has an impact beyond our lives, where the focus is outward and the mission is more than the bottom line,” explains Péter. If this happens at a proverbial breakneck speed and helps the company climb dizzying heights, the co-workers will be the last to object!

TSCNET Services welcomes Péter Szőcs

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“Welcoming people from all over the world”

04.11.2019

Munich is growing and growing, also because many people from abroad come here for an attractive job. According to a study by the consulting firm Mercer published in spring, Munich is the city with the third-highest quality of life worldwide for expatriates. Of the almost 1.6 million inhabitants of Munich, more than one in four has a foreign passport. In addition to the quality of life, people from abroad especially appreciate the leisure activities, the environmental quality, the security and, last but not least, the career opportunities.

The vast majority of TSCNET Services employees also come from abroad – currently from almost 30 different countries. Jamilette Johnston, or Jamie for short, knows this situation well. Originally from NYC, she has lived in Miami, Madrid and moved to Munich almost ten years ago. She runs one of the most successful blogs for foreign employees and their families in Munich: “City Starlings”. The motto: “Inspiring Expats”! We met Jamie for a talk.

Hello, Jamie, let’s start right at the beginning: What is it like to move to Munich from abroad?

Moving to Munich, or any city for that matter, can turn out to be an amazing or a daunting experience. It depends on so many factors: If this is your first move abroad, it can certainly be overwhelming for anyone. If you are moving from a city with a warm climate, you might find the cold winter months in Munich challenging. If you move from a city with a lot of pollution or dirty streets, then Munich will seem utopian. It’s all relative, isn’t it?
But really, the only factor that will make this a successful expat experience is YOU. You and only you will take what life has to offer and turn it into the best adventure you can embark on.

Many do not come alone but have their partner with them. I read the following line from you: “A happy Spouse, makes a happy House!” What do you mean by that?

It is especially hard for the trailing spouse, who has left behind work, family, friends, an entire support system to start anew. I suggest using this opportunity to travel, to learn the local language, to meet new people and immerse yourself in new cultures. It is easier said than done, but maybe all your sacrifices lead you to finding your life’s purpose.

We also often experience that the partner is a very vital support when settling in. Who or what else can help one?

Luckily, the city offers countless opportunities for expats. Munich has become a very multi-culti city, welcoming people from all over the world. Due to this, there are several international groups you can join, such as Internations, Meetup, Munich International Women’s Club, etc. You can also volunteer for nonprofits, such as, ReDI School or SMILE – English Choir. Meet with like-minded people, but don’t forget to meet the locals as well. They possess a wealth of information.

That’s a good cue. We are convinced that we as an employer and especially the co-workers can be a great support, but we also always advise to build something up outside the office and the circle of co-workers and to take advantage of the many opportunities here.

You are spoilt for choice, just take the city’s cultural offer: I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but museums, opera, ballet, theatre, concerts, there is so much of a selection throughout the year, that you cannot get bored. There’s something for every taste.
Many times, your preferences will adapt to your new surroundings. Since coming to Munich, the outdoors has become my playground. I took up hiking and skiing, which was new and scary at first. But with the pre-Alps and Alps so close, I had to give them a chance and have fallen in love with nature. Walchensee, Benediktenwand and Tegernsee are great places for hiking. And there are so many great ski resorts like Wilder Kaiser, Ski Amade and Zillertal. For me, that had another positive side effect: This has made it easier for me to cope with the winter months 

That must have been a pretty big change. In the past, on a beautiful winter weekend, half of Munich was somewhere on a ski slope in the Bavarian uplands or in Tyrol. What role do the neighbouring countries play for expats?

It has been amazing to discover the beauty of these neighbouring countries – Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and so many more. Take advantage of their proximity. You can discover so many amazing places inside and outside Germany by car, but also by train. The “Bayern-Ticket” is one of the best kept travel tips – it can save families and large groups big bucks when traveling through Bavaria.
If you prefer to stay closer to home, Munich has much to offer: Oktoberfest, Tollwood and Auer Dult are only some of the many street festivals throughout the year. Get ready for the upcoming Christmas season! Christmas Markets usually start on the Friday before Sunday Advent and run through Christmas Eve. There are many throughout Germany offering spiced wine, food and local crafts. You can’t help being affected by the festive lights and cheerful mood of the locals.

What is your favourite among the Christmas markets?

In Munich, my favourite ones are the Medieval Market in Wittelsbacher Platz and the Christmas Village in the Munich Residenz.

Is there another tip for expats that we definitely shouldn’t forget?

Good that you ask, otherwise I would have almost forgotten the annual “Expat In The City” event – a very important event for expats. The next date is pending – so keep an eye out for updates on their website, which additionally has a lot of helpful resources for expats.
Also, venture out about town. Be a tourist in your new city. Munich is small, but there is much to see. Opt to travel by bike as much as you can. Bike paths throughout the city make it safe and practical to get around. But make sure you learn a few road rules before you do though.
And don’t give up when things get tough! I have had my ups and downs, it is not always easy. But I’ve slowly built up my support system consisting of both expats and locals alike. This balance has helped me in my own journey, and I have never regretted my move to Munich. I hope these tips help you settle into your new home.

Many thanks for the interview and all the tips, Jamie. And all the best with City Starlings!

“City Starlings” by Jamie Johnston is one of the most successful blogs for foreign employees and their families in Munich

Linkup
> Visit Jamie’s blog City Starlings (html)
> Visit City Starlings on Instagram (html)

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A polyglot engineer eager for change

17.10.2019

“IT infrastructure is the beating heart of the organisation,” says Michael Klazema, an American expert on digital consulting and technological innovation. So, the fact that our IT Infrastructure Services division has picked up speed over the past few weeks is fitting. With the newly hired Jeffrey Morales, there is now also an IT Service Manager at TSCNET Services. The 33-year-old comes originally from Manila, capital of the Philippines, which has also been called “The Pearl of the Orient Sea” since the middle of the 18th century.

In Manila, Jeffrey completed a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. After nine years, he began his Master of Science studies in Management at the Technical University of Munich (TUM, Technical University Munich), which he almost completed in the meantime – mostly alongside his full-time job. Jeffrey has 12 years of professional experience, that involves moving across the world from Manila to Singapore to New York to Frankfurt and now to Munich. He started his career in Manila right after university. After three years at HP & SunPower Philippines, the Swiss bank UBS hired him as an expat and brought him to Singapore. Later he joined Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) and spent considerable amount of time in New York for business development projects with lots of flights between the American East Coast and the coast of Malaysia.

“Challenging the status quo” finally led our new co-worker to Germany. Here he worked for the Bavarian government and learnt German in a hurry – from the problem that hardly any of his fellow workers spoke English well enough, he made an advantage. “Learning the local language is a sign of respect,” says Jeffrey. And it greatly facilitates integration in the new home country. Now the fervent blogger studied and speaks five other languages in addition to German and Filipino as his mother tongue: English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and a little French. No wonder good friends call him a “polyglot engineer”.

Helpful around the globe
The travel enthusiast has already visited 45 countries – in just nine years. In 2015, he completely circumnavigated the world – from the Maldives via Singapore and the Philippines to China, then via Alaska and through the USA via Great Britain and continental Europe to Georgia and finally via South Korea back to the Philippines. Travelling educates and helps to reflect. “The more I see different people from different walks of life of different cultures, the more I see myself as just a speck of life, it humbles you,” Jeffrey describes it. “And the less importance you give to troubles and stress.”

As IT Service Manager at TSCNET, Jeffrey wants to help the company exploit its potential, especially for its customers. He wants to create changes: With a personal touch, he wants to get involved and help make the processes more efficient – he never wants to be the “loudest voice in the room”, but always “one of the most effective”.

Jeffrey also wants to change things for the better outside of his work – which is why he has often volunteered for organisations that are committed to improving the lives of people in need. “We only have one life to live, so it’s better to use it wisely,” he says. “Filipinos are known for their helpfulness and for caring for their fellow human beings,” writes the magazine “Inquirer” – our new arrival seems to be a prime example of this.

33-year-old Jeffrey Morales joined TSCNET Services as IT Service Manager

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New hire: Explorer with a technical thirst for discovery

07.10.2019

Christian Paúl Suárez is new in our Service Operations business unit but familiar with electricity market issues. The 26-year-old Ecuadorian, who prefers to be called Paúl by his middle name, is curious to experience the differences between the South American and the European electricity markets. At TSCNET Services, Paúl should find the ideal conditions for this and advance his own career together with his new company. We warmly welcome our new Junior Operations Manager.

In the major Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil, Paúl visited the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and completed his studies as an electrical engineer in power systems. Before he graduated from the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja in Spain with a Master of Business Administration specialised in project management, he worked as “profesional de estudios económicos” (professional in economic assessment) for the Ecuadorian state power company Corporación Nacional de Electricidad, the country’s largest energy corporation with more than 1.2m end customers.

Currently, Paúl is demonstrating his ambitions by attending an online programme for a master’s degree in Renewable Energy and Energy Sustainability from the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain alongside his new job at TSCNET. As Junior Operations Manager it is his declared goal to become familiar with the functioning of the European market and network and to cooperate with the company in the management of the European interconnected energy environment.

Paúl finds not only his new company but also its location in Munich attractive. The world-famous German natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt thought Ecuador was “the most interesting region in the world” because of the “high snow-capped peaks, the active volcanoes, their vegetation and the customs of their inhabitants” – we are curious to see what remarkable things Paúl will discover here in Bavaria. The Oktoberfest, which ended yesterday, might have given some impressions.

TSCNET Services has hired Christian Paúl Suárez from Ecuador as Junior Operations Manager in the Service Operations business unit

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