Dual Focus

Jaime Hurtado (Photo: Samantha Simmons)

Jaime Hurtado combines his two passions—renewable energy and transportation—to drive Dragados Canada’s sustainable initiative

Growing up in Spain, Jaime Hurtado never envisioned himself going into law. “Toward the end of high school, I was thinking about being a philologist or history professor, but I was really confused,” he says. “Then I saw a member of the Spanish parliament in a mall where he was presenting a book he’d written. The book wasn’t very successful, and the guy was alone, so I sat with him. I explained my predicament, and he said to me, ‘If you don’t know what to do, study law.’ So I did.”

Hurtado went to law school in Spain and studied for a year each in Italy and Greece, never once regretting his decision. “We see lawyers differently in continental Europe,” he says. “They’re generalists. They learn about many different things, and when they’re finished with school, they can do a lot of things beyond practicing law, from going into business to working as a public servant.”

Hurtado himself worked in the banking sector for six months before interning for the Spanish embassy in Athens, Greece, in the commercial section. There, he worked with many Spanish companies doing business in Greece and many Greek companies doing business in Spain, and he parlayed those relationships into a job as legal counsel at Gamesa Energy, a Spanish company that develops wind farms. “That was my first contact with renewable energies and my first assignment as pure legal counsel, and it opened my eyes to what I wanted to do,” says Hurtado, who held the position for two years. “I wanted to continue being a lawyer but work on projects because you get to do many different things that support a company.”

The Word on Green

Jaime Hurtado, who provides legal counsel for Dragados Canada’s infrastructure projects and owns a small solar facility in Greece, says renewable energy is his life, so we asked him about his views on sustainability in general. Here’s what he had to say.

Alternative fuels
“It’s a tough bet. I don’t see an immediate future for alternative fuels, not because they aren’t feasible, but because of the oil market.”

Transportation
“It’s the other half of my professional life. It changes people’s lives. A highway, a subway—these things make a difference to people.

Sustainable behaviours
“They’re something we should invest in more than everything else. They’re our future. By the time you impose fines, it’s too late. To me, education and creating in our children values and ideas about sustainability is everything.”

Dragados, an indirect subsidiary of ACS Actividades de Construcción y Servicios, SA, one of the largest contractors in the world, which designs and builds primarily infrastructure projects such as roads and energy facilities, was a natural fit for Hurtado’s international expertise. He was hired in Spain by Dragodos’s parent company, and he then moved to Greece for six years before moving to Canada in 2011. Today, he serves as general counsel for Dragados Canada, Inc., leading negotiations for the firm as it focuses on renewable-energy projects—and also finding time for sustainable efforts of his own, as Dragados fulfilled Hurtado’s desire to do project work.

“The company involves lawyers from the beginning of a project,” he says. “When an authority or province or ministry starts the procurement process, we analyze the procurement documents and flag any contractual risks. We draft and negotiate contracts with local partners, who are the other contractors the company works with. Once the contract is awarded, we make sure everything is done according to the agreements. And we provide ongoing risk analysis as well as claims and litigation management.”

Since joining the company, Hurtado has­ ­­worked on a number of notable projects, in­cluding the $2.1 billion Confederation Line—Ottawa’s light-rail transit system, one of the largest single infrastructural efforts in the city’s history—and the Windsor Essex Parkway, a highway that will someday run from Windsor to Detroit.

Dragados, which focuses on efficiency,­ also fulfilled Hur­tado’s interest in working in renewable energy. “The company operates in many countries, and regardless of local regulations, it has its own standards in terms of social responsibility, environment, and health and safety,” Hurtado says. “And those standards go beyond what is required.”

Given his passion for sustainability, however, Hurtado wanted to take his efforts a step further. So, during his free time, he built a small solar facility in Greece with some friends who are engineers. The facility was challenging to build from another country, but Hurtado and the team succeeded, and he’s proud of its success providing energy to the grid. “Renewable energy has been my life,” he says, “and I wanted to do something more.”