Dewald Serfontein, Senior Planning Engineer at Worley

Dewald Serfontein, Senior Planning Engineer at Worley

Dewald, how did you get in contact with Selectum?

I had a friend working in the Netherlands at Worley; he informed me that there was a position available that would be interesting for me. After my initial interview with Worley my communication started with Selectum, Lennaert van Zon and Mark Koster. After that, things were sorted out quickly. Just 5 weeks later I was on a plane to Schiphol with my wife and 2 young kids. We had a wish for moving abroad for quite some time, for a safer and better future. The Netherlands was one of our preferred countries, partly because of the language. But it’s not easy to get into the Netherlands, since South Africa is outside Schengen. Selectum went out of their way to help me and my family to be able to enter and arrive safely, in the middle of a Covid lockdown.

Can you tell us what your position as a Senior Planning Engineer at Worley entails?

Since November 2020 I have been part of the planning department for a current project of Shell in Rotterdam. It is a facility that will be among the biggest in Europe to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel made from waste. We are planning everything from the start to the end of each phase. My colleagues and I are planning what needs to happen at what time and how. We also make sure that nothing runs behind and we don’t go over the budget. You could almost compare it to building a house: how many bricks are needed to build your house, where and when does the piping, electrical, etc. go in, when does the roof have to come up, when do the windows need to arrive, etc.
The project will run until 2024 and I will be part of it until the end. It’s a very interesting and big project and I am very happy to be part of it.

What are your experiences about the collaboration with Selectum?

Selectum has changed our lives and I’m not exaggerating saying that. They helped us to make a smooth transition to Holland and I am really really happy with the way they treated us.
Selectum fetched us at the airport and took us to our South African friends who offered us a temporary living space in their house. When we arrived in the Netherlands it was snowing. Selectum gave us one of their company cars to use, so we did not have to walk around in the freezing cold. A very soft landing into our new country with a completely different climate. Selectum also helped us find a house and good schools for our kids. They even arranged all our documentation that we needed here. My wife also works at Selectum now, so all in all we were really blessed and welcomed as a family.

What is the best part about your job? And why?

To plan something today that is only happening in the next couple of months or even years and seeing the process coming along exactly according to the planning. That’s just a real kick! You have to take into account so many factors, look at the history of similar projects, take into consideration natural disasters, the weather et cetera. We are already looking at the weather forecast for the coming phase of the project, so we can work around days with (for example) heavy rain. Being part of the planning field really requires a lot of skills. There are not a lot of people with experience and knowledge in this field of work, but I am privileged to be one of the few with the necessary skills and experience. There is a high demand for good planners, so I am very happy to have been given this opportunity in the Netherlands. Especially during Covid, which put a lot of projects into delay. A real challenge for a Planning Engineer, so I can add that to my 12 years of experience 😉

What part of Engineering interests you the most?

Civil and electrical engineering. My dad is an electrical engineer and civil engineering is my passion. On the current project we are moving over to the next phase of the project which is the construction/executing phase. This executing phase means a lot of construction work and I am thrilled to see how it’s all taking shape.
Our morale is really high, everyone is happy and working to their limit. We all want to see the project finished with a great success.

What are the challenges for you in your position?

It’s a lot of working hours, with many meetings. All these meetings sometimes leave us not enough time to do the actual work. Covid has changed the way we work, with more online meetings and working from home. I am in favor of work from home, because productivity has proven to go up. And it’s wonderful to be able to have lunch at home with my wife and kids, have a chat and enjoy our meal together. But I also think a good balance is important, going to the office at least 1 or 2 days a week. Some things are discussed a lot easier when you get to interact face to face with your colleagues.

What developments do you see in your field of work?

The biggest one is certainly the move to more sustainability. The way of the future. We are contributing by working on the waste, converting it into renewable, clean fuel and going green.

If you were the boss of the world, what would you change?

Make it safer for women and kids. That’s why we love the Netherlands every day more and more. There is so little crime here! My 7-year-old son can ride his bike, play outside with his friends and I never have to worry if he will come home safe. I can even go away for a week on a project without being stressed about the safety of my family at home or any other harm to my family. This feeling of security and safety I want for everyone.

Would you recommend Selectum to others in your network?

O yes! I have already recommended them to many of my friends and contacts.
What makes Selectum so different is that they make you feel part of a family, from day one. It’s a big step for a family to pack up and move to a country where you know nobody; Selectum helped us in every step of the process. I have been in contact with a lot of recruiters before and to most of them you are just the next candidate. For Selectum though, you are the right candidate.
A South African passport means a lot of paperwork needed for travel. This means that when you are from outside the Schengen area, you really need to be highly skilled to get an opportunity in the Netherlands. Only if companies cannot find anyone with a Schengen visa, they will look at South Africa or any other country. And Selectum has truly done everything possible to make our move a smooth one.
So yes, I will certainly be a good Selectum salesman for any new candidates to come to the Netherlands. We can all help each other that way.

What’s on your agenda for the rest of the day?

It is month end reporting so that means getting a lot of reports out on what happened during the month.

Any famous last words from you?

For my South African contacts, and basically for all other countries: do you want work in the Netherlands as a highly skilled technical professional, but are you hesitant because of all the barriers? Get in contact with Selectum, they will win you over. We cannot stress enough how Selectum has helped us settle in. We have no regrets at all and are more than happy to help anyone making their wish come true.
And of course, we will invite you to our weekly Triple B: Braai, Biltong and Beer!

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