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Business cell of Civil Engineering is growing and flourishing

The Civil Engineering business cell at TMC NL operates at the forefront of Dutch construction, with big clients at both the contractor and government side and a stable growth in employeneurs. Cell director Freek Alberink and his business managers talk us through the current developments, opportunities in the market and the soft side of engineering.

During the corona pandemic the business cell of Civil Engineering at TMC Netherlands did not lie idle. In the previous months the cell grew with six new people to a total of 31 employeneurs. Their clients include big national contractors like VolkerWessels, BAM, Heijmans, Dura Vermeer, Plegt Vos & Van Gelder and TBI, as well as government bodies such as the Dutch Department of Waterways and Public Works as well as various municipalities. Civil Engineering hopes to sustain this growth over the next year with the goal of reaching over forty employees.

The projects their business cell attracts are quite broad, says cell director Freek Alberink. “Right now infrastructure and energy are really booming markets. Wind farms are hip and happening with a lot of investments going into sustainable energy. We’re also moving in that direction. One of our Employeneurs is now working at a project to build wind turbines in the Flevopolder.”

According to Alberink the focus in the market is changing. “There is still plenty of money invested into new projects, but at the same time we’re seeing a growing emphasis on maintenance projects. There is a lot of overdue maintenance to bridges, roads and tunnels, to name but a few. The city of Amsterdam is fortifying their city’s quay walls, to give another example. That’s also a project where one of our own employeneurs is part of.”

Soft side of engineering

In terms of hiring new employeneurs the business cell is focusing on the top of the market, especially the “soft side” of engineering where the emphasis lies more on managing and controlling processes than on making calculations and designs. This includes area’s such as project management, environmental management and contract management. “The soft side suits TMC well,” says business manager Koen Jonkers. “It naturally attracts people that connect easily, have an entrepreneurial spirit and often feel the need to develop themselves. TMC facilitates in all of these things.”

Soft skills have become more important in recent years, Alberink says. “In the past an engineering project was launched with very specific requirements, down to the thickness of the sewage pipes for instance. When projects enter the market today, requirements have a much higher level of abstraction and solutions are increasingly left to the market. Projects are becoming multidisciplinary, sometimes also more complex in terms of collaborations. That’s why the market needs a different kind of engineer, someone able to look beyond his or her own speciality.”

"It’s all about the willingness and the need for development.”

A “soft” engineer is also more flexibly employable for clients. If you’re a contract manager it makes little difference whether you work on an energy or an infrastructure project. That flexibility is useful in today’s market, which is shifting towards sustainability and innovation. “Because of that shift our people will be more frequently employed in sustainability projects,” business manager Daan Kobes says. “When your focus is on the soft side of engineering, it makes you more flexible so you’re better able to cope with the shift.”

To work for TMC it’s not necessary to possess these soft skills from the outset, Koen Jonkers clarifies. “It’s also fine if people want to improve their soft skills. It’s all about the willingness and the need for development.” Engineers experienced in the hard side of engineering are also still very welcome, Kobes adds. “A skilled and specialised engineer can be very valuable to our clients.”

Taking ownership

When asked what they’re most proud of about their business cell Daan Kobes mentions the successful expansion of their network. “We have developed great contacts with the big contractors. Now clients are also searching us out instead of the other way around. It goes to show we’ve created a team of truly skilled employeneurs.”

Koen Jonkers is happy with the way they have been able to explain TMC’s added value to the engineers. “We’ve managed to give people the right feeling about our organisation. That’s why we’ve been able to select the right kind of engineers.”

Cell director Freek Alberink agrees. “I’m proud of the quality of our people. Because of our beautiful model we’ve gained a distinctive capability in the quality of our engineers. These are technicians who really want to take ownership of their careers, make their own choices, create a spirit of entrepreneurship and teamwork and develop themselves in hard and soft skills. All of this is possible at TMC and it’s one of the things that distinguishes us for our clients.”

For more information about the business cell Civil Engineering please contact:

Freek Alberink

Director Civil Engineering, Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)6 12 30 89 33

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