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Marianne Blondeau
chargée de projet à la direction technique, BU Bâtiment
Published on April 01, 2020

Reading time : 2 min

How I became a worksite guide

One summer in Paris, the week of 15 August. The city feels like it’s bogged down by the heat wave. Everything has slowed down. Not a noise, not a movement, except in some very specific places. Places you can only geto into with a badge, specific equipment, gloves and goggles. Strategic places, hidden behind high, opaque barriers.

Nouvelle Samaritaine

View from the staircase of the Samaritaine's shop in Paris - Crédits : Marianne Blondeau - Egis

One summer in Paris, the week of 15 August. The city feels like it’s bogged down by the heat wave. Everything has slowed down. Not a noise, not a movement, except in some very specific places. Places you can only geto into with a badge, specific equipment, gloves and goggles. Strategic places, hidden behind high, opaque barriers.

A barrier at the site entrance. In huge print, the contractor’s name. In tiny print, very modestly, the Egis logo, as usual. We contribute to some prestigious projects, we work for world-renowned clients - and yet, who knows what Egis actually does?

Based on this observation, we decided to reinforce our visibility and show off the know-how of our teams. How? By inviting our prestigious clients to visit some sensational work sites. It was then our task, and that of our experts, to escort them appropriately, taking them on a journey that they thought they knew, but that they would discover from a quite different angle, exploring all the facets of Egis on the way.

The ingredients of good sit visit

What you will need for a successful site visit:

  • an iconic project, surrounded by mysteries whose names are familiar to anyone, whatever their age;
  • a visiting executive director;
  • some fascinating teams;
  • and an extrovert and curious (female) team member.

Mix it all up, and you’ll get different site visits, visits that make people marvel or travel, visits that convey another image than the one that our clients have of us.

But in actual fact, how did I come to get involved in all this? I discovered the work site, I explored it from top to bottom, from north to south, I asked the wildest, most ridiculous questions, no holds barred, no beating around the bush. By night, by day, at dawn, at dusk, come rain or shine!

Here is where two essential and, might I say, magical people come into play: the communications manager and the commercial director. They will open their little book of spells and draw up the “guest list.” In their cauldron they will assemble all the right ingredients until they cook up 49 groups of 4 to 6 people. They will act as the cornerstone of the project, propose a timetable, set up the appointments and promote the project.

Every problem has a solution!

But as you might expect, it’s not all that simple: a worksite isn’t a museum: you can certainly visit it, but not around-the-clock. You need permits, “imprimaturs” if you like. You’ve got to show your credentials. So, sometimes when the cogs seize up, you need to get the top dogs involved. CEO talks to CEO. Thumbs up, the visit goes ahead; thumbs down, call it all off.

This is when the visit can start. The duration we had originally announced (1 hour 30 mins) was just a sweet illusion. Carried away by the tidal wave of questions, we easily overshoot two hours. The clients are delighted because, ultimately, what better way of discovering what was hiding behind these barriers, of being able to say the next time you’re in the Samaritaine: I was there, I saw the before, the during and now I’m taking a plunge into the future. And we are delighted too, because our clients discover our different job disciplines and because we can tweet about their visits and make some noise about our projects. That’s what I call a truly successful site visit!

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