How long have you been part of Ahrend?
I was given a permanent contract as a technician in November 1989, three months after I started as a temporary worker. Soon after I started, I thought: if I work here for five years, surely every single office will have been furnished. However, I’ve been working for Ahrend for over thirty years now and I’ve seen some buildings change three or four times. I’ve been a technician, a coordinating technician, project manager and now I’m the external assembly team leader. In all these years, no two days have been the same.
‘My colleagues are like a second family.’
What will stay with you forever?
The jobs in other countries in particular; those were fantastic adventures. The Booking.com offices in New Zealand and Australia, working through the night in Las Vegas because I’d miss the flight home otherwise! In Mauritania, my toolbox was lost. We had to put everything together with a borrowed drill and two drill bits I happened to have on me.
I’ve been to Costa Rica, Panama, Jakarta… In Kabul I was once picked up in a tanker; that’s something I’ll never forget. And I often travelled alone. I really had to make do with the resources and people that were available. That can be quite stressful, but things always worked out. It sometimes took a bit of adjusting in terms of culture; but the same applied when I then returned to the Netherlands after a couple of weeks.
‘In more than thirty years, no two days have been the same .’
What developments have you seen over the years?
A lot has changed in thirty years. The latest change in our department was the switch from paper-based planning to digital. I was deeply involved in that on behalf of the technicians. Their tablets are now set up in such a way that they always know exactly what they are doing when they start a new job.
But the furniture has changed massively too. From a permanent workspace with picture frames and all the trimmings to the flexi-spaces of today, and from fixed-height to adjustable desks... and today the Qabins are really popular. We used to build a lot of cabinets. Now that’s unusual. All data storage is now digital.
‘You really have to work together here; you need everyone to deliver good work.’
What’s the most important thing in your job?
Communication is very, very important. No matter which department you work in, you have to be able to get on with people. It was the same when I was a technician: you bear a lot of responsibility and represent Ahrend to the client. You have to be able to answer questions and resolve any problems that may occur. You have to have those skills. In my role, it helps that I’ve also been a technician myself; I know what my staff need.
What makes you proud of Ahrend?
The whole thing; the overall picture of working at Ahrend. I’m proud of what we put in place everywhere we go, the problems we solve. The fact that you and your team can turn a large empty building into a beautiful workplace in a couple of weeks’ time. You really need everyone in the company to be able to deliver good work. Everyone is highly aware of that; you’re dependent on each other and really have to work together. The people here share a certain pride. It feels like a second family.