Othmar, how did you get in touch with Selectum?
When I was living and working in Aruba, I received job offers by indeed.nl on a daily basis. One fine day an interesting brownfield project came up. My heart is in civil engineering and particularly in the work field of refineries. So I contacted Selectum, who had issued the vacancy. Serdal Gökmen called me and after we spoke I had an online interview with Worley.
I also had other offers on the table, but Selectum stood out for me. And the position of Senior Civil Engineer fit me like a glove.
After that, things moved quickly. It took less than two months between noticing the vacancy (june 2022), our move to the Netherlands and the start of my position at Worley (august 1st 2022).
What does your role as Senior Structural Engineer entail?
I am responsible for the design, construction and budget of major projects. Currently I am working on three Shell projects, including the modification of a refinery. When the plant needs maintaining, production is shut down; we take care of the maintenance and make sure everything is restarted safely and efficiently.
Sometimes an emergency occurs, for instance a leaking pipeline. In those cases we immediately need to take care of the repair, since every day of production loss in a Shell unit means financial loss. We repair the malfunction and if this can’t be done immediately, we reroute the pipeline. Together with my team I list the materials needed and make calculations for repairs and maintenance. Urgencies like that require several people to find a quick, good and cost-effective solution.
In Aruba, I had already been responsible for maintaining the storage at the island’s refinery for 10 years. So my current position is exactly my cup of tea.
The exciting thing about civil engineering is that you can’t always predict incidents, even if high-end estimates and calculations have been made. A good example are old pipes, which could not be traced during the preparation but which must be removed. It is part of my job to predict what can go wrong – and how to solve it.
Another one of my projects concerns the red to green project within Shell. To implement this, Worley (the engineering company that works for Shell) has switched to alternative energy and is currently building entirely new facilities, such as a hydrogen plant.
Every plant and oil refinery has to deal with loads of safety regulations. These places can be dangerous, both for people and nature, so you have to consider many aspects of safety. We always make sure we adhere to all safety measures, including wearing special clothes and shoes before we are allowed onto the plant.
I can mostly perform my job from my home office, which is new to me – no such thing exists in Aruba. To stay aligned, my team takes up on online scrum meetings every other day and sometimes I’ll go to the office or to the plant in Pernis.
What are your experiences in working with Selectum?
Very pleasant. There has been a lot of phone contact with Serdal and I also got acquainted personally to the two Marks (Mark Koster and Mark van Zundert). Office manager Amy helped me with heart & soul to fix appointments for house viewings et cetera.
Meanwhile, my family found an apartment in The Hague via Selectum. Also my wife and our two accompanying children are happy in the Netherlands.
Selectum works in a decent way and they’ll arrange everything you need. I also enjoyed the recent day out at Snow World, that Selectum had arranged for everyone. You get to know each other better, including your own colleagues via Selectum and of course the Selectum employees themselves. I had brought along my eldest grandchild and he had a great day.
What is the best part of your job?
Experiencing something different all the time. Never a dull day!
Another attractive aspect of working at Worley is that this company is so professional. If you need something, they’ll immediately take care of it. Also it’s a safe and pleasant environment to work in. And last but not least: my team is top-notch. Everyone in the group has an engineering background and it is a pleasure to work with every single one of them.
Which part of the engineering sector interests you most?
Civil engineering. That is also my training. Apart from civil engineering I have gained a lot of experience in mechanical engineering and I always enjoy working within the refinery world. But the most important thing to me is having a position in civil engineering. Why? Civil engineering is special because you create something out of nothing. When you finish your project, you’ve really built up something. When I see the buildings arise, I sometimes feel like an artist ;-). You could consider brownfield civil engineering a creatively challenging field of work, because you construct something completely new among already existing buildings.
What are the challenges for you within your role?
The heavy workload. But that’s the only thing I can think of. I’m just having a great time and enjoy seeing how well my colleagues are all doing.
What developments do you see in your field?
Renewable energy. Worley and Shell are currently building the world’s largest facility for hydrogen. Soon we’ll all be driving cars powered by hydrogen and Shell Netherlands plays a major part in that.
In the future I want to lead this kind of large, modern projects as well and this is possible at Worley. In this company you can go anywhere as a civil engineer, since they operate worldwide (52000 employees). I am looking forward to having great assignments for a long time to come.
If you were boss of the world, what would you change?
Get rid of corruption. I come from close to Latin America and have done lots of business with all kinds of countries in that area. Before we could take the orders with us, everyone always had to be bribed. You can’t work like that, can you? According to the ‘philosophy’ of corruption, everyone should get a small part of the whole so that things get done. But that is not possible, because it means you always overshoot your budget. Most importantly, corruption is completely against my principles: ‘why should I pay you extra when things have already been paid for?’ For me, things don’t necessarily have to go faster, but decent trade, free of corruption is the way to move forward.
Apart from corruption, I also want to see world famine eliminated. But that’s still wishful thinking, it will take time before the human race gets there…
What’s on your calendar for the rest of the day?
Back-to-back meetings, all project-related.
Would you recommend Selectum to others in your network?
Oh yes. I got in touch with Selectum in june and by july I already had a contract. Everything went quickly, I could even start as early as july 18th. It even went a bit too fast for us, because we wanted to settle in the Netherlands first and have a short holiday before I started my job.
All in all, everything went smoothly and correctly. Within a short timespan I was in contact with Serdal, both Marks, Paul Haers and Amy and they all were there for me. Also my wife is happy being here. She is originally from Colombia and is now learning Dutch. I have a great job and we live close to our children and grandchildren, what’s not to like?
Any famous last words for us?
‘If you do it, do it safely’. The more experienced you become, the more you come to appreciate the importance of security. There is always the possibility of something happening, so never let your safety measures slip.