At Tetra Tech, our people make the difference in supporting customers’ compliance needs. Even in increasingly digital environments, there are talented, dedicated and expert individuals behind the scenes. We connected with François-Xavier Torrentz, one of our product regulatory compliance specialists, to learn more about the work he’s doing and his experiences at Tetra Tech over the past four years.
When you meet someone new, how do you explain what you do for a living?
I usually explain that I work for a global engineering and environmental consulting firm as a product regulatory compliance specialist. My focus is on the automotive industry as well as commercial automotive equipment and other small engine parts. The majority of my work involves collaborating with supply chains to confirm that the material used in the parts/assemblies comply with various global environmental regulations. My daughter likes to say I help make sure the chemicals used in cars and in equipment parts won’t contain anything detrimental to human health.
Who or what inspired you to pursue the career you’re in today?
At a young age, I didn’t have the clearest vision for my future. For a while I wanted to be an airline pilot but lacked the perfect eyesight and frankly the advanced math skills. I started studying languages and more specifically English, because it’s a field I have a passion for, and I worked for several years as a translator and interpreter. I also spent time working in the big data/PR sector within the automotive industry.
Earlier, I had worked as a general administrator and later as compliance officer for a company that provides cleaning services for large entertainment and sports venues as well as commercial facilities around the world. I always enjoyed working on projects that included databases or required linguistics expertise. All these took me on a winding journey, but the pieces of my varied background fell into place when I had an opportunity to work on projects for Tetra Tech.
Why did you choose to work at Tetra Tech?
This was in fact the result of a fortuitous contracting position. Tetra Tech was looking for an English to French linguist for a specific French-Canadian Safety Data Sheet project for an OEM. This initial project was a very good way to get introduced to the company. From the get go, I had a chance to see how much Tetra Tech cares about its people and how it consistently fosters a work environment that encourages learning and growth.
What is your favorite aspect of being part of this organization?
Tetra Tech is made up of people with a broad range of backgrounds and expertise. This is a strength not only for customers, but also internally. People are versatile and strengths are developed and fostered on individual levels. And as an employee, you have a vast number of people to turn to as resources or mentors. This was especially vital for me getting started. I was coming in somewhat new to the regulatory compliance world. I didn’t have a chemical engineering background. From supervisors to project managers to every other employee I’ve encountered, the door has always been open. And beyond that, people allow you the chance to transfer and grow your skills and develop into your role. The human aspect of this organization is powerful.
How does ‘Leading with Science’ inspire the work you do?
To me, “Leading with Science” means a continuous learning process that’s intelligently applied to solve problems. In my linguistics education, reading Dr. Noam Chomsky’s perspective on language helped me understand that maybe if one never really can know everything there is to know about a specific language, it is possible to analyze its structure as a whole and come up with literal formulas that will help account for the majority of situations, whether when dealing with grammatical structures or pronunciation.
I’ve used that “toolbox” approach in most fields I’ve worked in during my career. In many ways, it’s led my career forward and has helped enhance the work I do within Tetra Tech. If science is the pursuit of learning and understanding, leading with science is applying what we have learned in meaningful and intelligent ways to help make the world a better place.
What does a day in your life at Tetra Tech look like?
I like to start my day early. I’m a zero-inbox practitioner, and I strive to start with a blank slate. From there, every day offers something new. I manage my time between seven or eight projects each week in different capacities — including large projects for OEMs to supporting an OEM’s help desk for its environmental staff, to interacting with suppliers or supporting smaller needs. There’s a freedom in the sense that I can decide how I’ll dedicate my time throughout the day. But there is also a healthy amount of check-in and accountability from managers to inspire my best work.
Name a project that you felt was most meaningful in your career.
I’ve been on a large project for the last three years, supporting the entire compliance program reporting and implementation. We essentially act as an external compliance reporting team for this organization. Getting to dig into a project like this makes it about more than just the work. I’ve been able to meet the client and develop great relationships. I also get to work with people all over the world and from different cultures.
From a skills standpoint, I’ve also been able to showcase my organizational capabilities within specific tasks and for the moving parts and pieces of this large project overall. And we’ve had to support this client in communicating with its extensive supply chain, meaning that I’ve had to translate messages, in a way, across audiences to make sure everyone is positioned and educated for compliance and reporting.
When this client first came to us, they were operating as a one-person show. We’ve been able to support their people and suppliers with responsiveness, expertise and professionalism to help them keep ahead of changing and increasing regulatory requirements. It continues to be a very fulfilling project to be part of.
What would you like to be known for in the future?
I want to be known as a resource anyone — both Tetra Tech employees and our customers — can trust. For new employees too, I want to be for them what so many of my mentors were to me, helping them on-board faster and really excel in their roles for our customers.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I really like barbecuing and cooking — entertaining friends and family. As the late, great Anthony Bourdain said, “Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.” My family also loves the American Southwest and hiking in the desert. Having the Arches National Park as my backyard is definitely a dream for the future.