He started "with a shovel in his hand". In 1999, Thijs Starink came to Visser & Smit Hanab as an apprentice via SPG. After graduating from technical secondary school in Civil Engineering, he became foreman, and he has now worked as works foreman for Distribution for five years. And he still enjoys his job a lot. "I proudly wear the Visser & Smit Hanab logo on my jacket!"
As works foreman, Thijs is responsible for the preparation, implementation and follow-up of distribution projects. "This includes such work as laying and moving high and low pressure gas pipelines, district heating, cables and water pipes." And this involves a lot more than he previously thought. "‘I can do that!'; that's what I used to say to myself when I saw a works foreman working away. Until I actually had to do it myself and I realised that it involved a lot more than just telling people what to do.
Schedules, budgets, capacity, coordination.... Plus you're the point of contact for everyone. And I don't just mean for your own people, but for the client, sub-contractors and other parties too."
As a works foreman, technical know-how, insight and experience are indispensable. "But your communication skills are just as important", Thijs says. "As a central point of contact for a lot of people, you have to be able to communicate clearly, know how to convey a message. And sometimes you really have to be able to stick up for yourself. If something goes wrong or there are issues at work, you're the first person that will be held accountable. "The heated responses of residents regarding a project where we had to dig close to listed farmhouses are something I remember as it if it happened yesterday!" he says with a smile. "But you learn to deal with that too."
A readiness to invest in its people is something that Thijs finds typical of Visser & Smit Hanab. "For example, I'm currently doing Technology Management studies at an institute of technology. Why? Maybe to become a project manager in the future. At Visser & Smit Hanab, you're given the space and opportunity to do something with your ambitions. If you show them that you really want something and you grab the opportunities on offer, you can achieve whatever you want here!"