Tunnel Engineer

The right move

Professional background

Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, specialising in infrastructure, from the HAN Institute at Arnhem University, The Netherlands. Eight years’ of experience working for contractors on tunnel projects in the Netherlands and one in South Korea. He now works for an engineering consultancy company as a tunnel engineer.

The background for moving to Denmark

I was just about finished with a project in Maastricht when I was contacted by Capax Recruitment. They told me about the position and about what they were looking for. After that I spoke to them and then the engineering consultancy company a couple of times. We talked about the type of projects they were looking to do, which involved an immersive tunnel technique that I’ve worked with a lot on projects in the Netherlands, I was convinced that this was the right move for me.

A new culture

Even though The Netherlands and Denmark are very similar countries, there are still some differences that I have noticed. Some of them have to do with Danish culture in general. For example, we ride bikes a lot in both countries, but whereas an orange traffic light in The Netherlands means ‘we need to hurry and get across before it changes to red’ in Denmark it means ‘stop’. I guess that is because we Dutch are a bit crazy on our bikes, but I think it also says something about Danish mentality in general – Danes tend to accept all rules and behave very decently.

The Danish work environment

One of the biggest changes for me in relation to work has been the size of the projects and the number of people involved. My last project for a contractor in The Netherlands involved about 300 people. In house staff on projects here, like the new tunnel project in Doha, Qatar, that I’m working on at the moment, just involves 20-30 people. My department is very international with people from all over the world, but I have noticed a few things about Danish work culture. Like in The Netherlands the organisational structure is very flat. This means that you can go straight to the boss or ask the guys on the floor about their opinion on a given project. I like this, and it’s the same in The Netherlands, but I guess it can take some getting used to for some people. A difference is my colleges here in Denmark tend to use email a lot more – sometimes even if they’re almost sitting in the same room. At the contractors I used to work for in The Netherlands we tended to talk more face-to-face. Another funny little thing is that instructions can sometimes be someone telling you: ‘oh, you can find the manual for that on the Intranet’ and then leave you to figure it out on your own. I guess it could be because of the way that Danes prize independence and people working independently – and they’re happy to give you more help if you ask for it.