How has your role evolved at Parkwind?
I started as an engineer and I’m still in an engineering function. In the beginning, I was mainly busy with reporting the technicalities of the turbines. My job has become much more wide, addressing challenges and interests of many more stakeholders than in the past. Now I am responsible for the team behind the operations and maintenance of our wind turbines. We need to make sure our turbines function well and minimize any downtime. We do performance analysis, preventive maintenance, and sometimes troubleshooting. We are constantly looking to get the maximum productivity out of our turbines.
What is it like to work on the operations and maintenance team?
When you work offshore, it’s a full day that you’re together with your colleagues. You’re on a vessel in an enclosed space. You have to rely on the professionalism and skills of your colleagues for you to be in a safe position. You need to open your comfort space and embrace your colleagues within your comfort space so you can do your work. Onshore, we’re also informal. There’s a very comfortable feeling that makes you feel you’re working more with family than with colleagues. Together you need to discuss all small things, you need to work together, you need to be proactive, and you need to look for solutions. You also have to assist your colleagues with manual handling actions, for instance. This gives you a connection with colleagues that you don’t have if you only do office work.
What is it like to work offshore?
Like when I go surfing at sea, I feel very humble because you really feel the forces of nature, the wind, and the waves. You cannot control anything. It’s a power that is beyond your imagination and your control. When you see the turbines, it’s just the same. Even if it’s calm and it’s beautiful flat sea, you still are astonished by the power that is signed out by these turbines. It’s idealistic for these giants to stand out there. Then you go into the elevator, go into the nacelle, open the hatch, step out, and look around you. It’s like, “This is an impressive setting in which I work.” That feeling and fascination don’t go away.
What is life like at Parkwind?
There’s a huge amount of trust from management to every layer in the organization to take on responsibilities, to take on new challenges, and to grasp every opportunity that you can. There is openness. You also feel that the shareholders are there for multiple reasons. First of all, to have a good business plan. But also to be part of something bigger. You really can feel it. We work in renewable energy and we try to do good for our stakeholders, for the environment, for the Belgium government, and for the people of Belgium.
What is challenging about your work?
What the big challenge is in operations and maintenance is that our production plant is remote. You cannot just walk from your desk to your machines and see what’s going on. You have to rely on the information that comes from offshore teams. It’s really difficult to have the exact knowledge onshore of the things happen offshore. That’s a true challenge.
How is Parkwind viewed in the industry?
I think Parkwind is very respected in the industry as being a company that has only existed about 10 years and has about 120 full-time employees, but that has been able to really have an impact on offshore wind energy. I don’t think there are a lot of companies of the size and the small magnitude of Parkwind that have been able to do that. If you speak of Parkwind in Belgium, but also in other countries, people have respect for the track records of a company like Parkwind in an industry that is more than more dominated by big utility companies.