After obtaining a Bachelor degree in Naval Architecture at the Technical University in Delft, I started a Master degree in Transport, Infrastructure and Logistics. While I just started my graduation project I started thinking about my professional career and one thing was very clear: it should be in the area of shipping or shipbuilding. Keeping that in mind, I visited the Maritime and Offshore Career Expo in Rotterdam and I met some representatives from Keppel Verolme.
I did not understand the yard that well and I was not familiar with the offshore world. But the challenges and complexity of the projects showed and the opportunity they offer me, make straight that I did not want to miss this.
I started in November 2010 for an 18 month trainee program that would result in a sound basis to become a project manager. This program is job-rotation plan with periods between 4 and 8 weeks, spending time in the HSEQ (Health, Safety Environment and Quality), Yard Facilities, Estimating, Engineering, Project and Production departments. The rotations are flexible and depending on the kind of projects on the yard. In my particular situation this became very clear after a few weeks in the engineering department. Challenges in a project required extra manpower and suddenly I was involved in several complex items in the critical path of the execution of works on a jack up drilling rig. While the first part of my traineeship was mainly behind a desk in the office, I suddenly spent most of the days out in the dry-dock wearing my coverall and helmet. Being a part of the project team means that all work needs to be managed and since production worked on a 24 hour basis this can no longer be a 9 to 5 job. In this period, the term ‘steep learning curve’ became reality. Having a sound theoretical basis from the university sure helps, however, in practice you will need to come up with solutions that are both correct and practically feasible. The pressure of limited time is never to be neglected; often it needs to be finished yesterday.
In these challenges, it is a matter of both receiving and giving support to the production department. It is important to understand that they know how to execute a certain solution and whether it is practically feasible or not, while on the other hand you need to evaluate the solution on theoretical correctness. In the beginning this is pretty hard, but given the great support I had from all different departments I learned more about production techniques and constructions in general than that can be learned in a classroom.
By the time I am writing this article, the traineeship is over and I am one of the Assistant Project Managers on one of Keppel Verolme’s major projects this year, the upgrade of the semi-submersible drilling rig Scarabeo 6, of owner Saipem.