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It’s about more than numbers

Bert Mulder and Robin Onink , Project Controllers

Bert Mulder and Robin Onink both completed their higher professional degrees in Business Economics and now work as project controllers for Van Oord. Robin enthusiastically tells the story of his introduction to the company: ‘I had to write a final thesis as part of my degree coursework. I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to finish my studies at a bank, insurance company or government agency. I was looking for a large, international player in a dynamic industry, because this suited my personality. I ultimately ended up at Van Oord in 1995, and thanks to all the challenges I’ve dealt with as part of my work, there hasn’t been a dull moment since.’

International challenges

‘I also started my career at Van Oord’, adds Bert. ‘That was in 1991. I didn’t want to be stuck just doing administrative paperwork. I also wanted to be part of a project team during the execution of international projects. Van Oord offered me the chance to achieve this goal, and since then I’ve worked all over the world on different projects in places like Malaysia, Guatemala, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, China, Russia and Australia. On projects like that, you’re responsible for supervising all of the financial and administrative aspects of the project. For me, these are opportunities I grab with both hands, every single time.’

Personal approach

Robin continues: ‘You’re not just responsible for the financial administration in general, but also for hiring, training and supervising local staff. You also play the important role of contact for banks, tax consultants and auditors. In other words, being a project controller involves more than just having substantive knowledge. Working on projects demands cooperation, open communication and flexibility. In my opinion, these are also the qualities that make Van Oord a success. This personal approach appeals to clients and suppliers, as well as to employees.’

Pleasant work environment

‘The contact we have with our colleagues is important from a business perspective, but it’s at least as important from a social perspective. Lots of colleagues spend time together outside working hours’, says Bert. Robin adds: ‘As a project controller, you often find yourself far from home. Being in a different time zone can make it difficult to maintain daily contact with family and friends. That’s something that all project employees have in common, and it often creates close bonds both at work and after hours.’ Bert concludes: ‘Related issues like living accommodation and local employment conditions are always well taken care of, which also contributes to a pleasant work environment.’


Caption: In November 2012 the 4th edition of the International Project Controllers Days (IPCOD) took place. The IPCOD is a bi-annual 2 day event held in The Netherlands, which are attended by all international Project Controllers, working worldwide for Van Oord.