Have you wondered how to have a career that allows you to explore different fields, skills, and cultures? I did. For me, it was always a dream to have multiple and diverse experiences where I can learn and grow. A few years ago, I didn’t know how to fit this within one career. However, this is exactly what I found at Tractebel! Let me take you through my journey so far…
Shifting worlds: From engineering to fashion and… back to engineering
After graduating as aeronautical engineer, I chose to head into a totally different field: the fashion industry! A few years later, however, I felt the need to go back to my professional roots and have a job that was aligned with my personal values. I applied at Tractebel as an engineer in Renewables – and got the job! At the time, I had no idea how varied my career at Tractebel would be and where the journey would take me.
I left fashion for Tractebel in 2011. This career change involved not only switching from an artistic to a technical environment, but adapting from a women’s world to a male-dominated field. This has never been an issue for me. (I know, it’s a privilege, and it’s not always as simple as in my experience.) Luckily, at least personally speaking, I’ve found that competence counts, not gender.
From Belgium to everywhere
I started working on development projects for wind farms in Belgium, where I learned a lot about the technical aspects of wind energy and turbine technology. With this knowledge, I started working on international wind projects but also photovoltaic (PV) projects. I performed technical due diligences, contract reviews and negotiations, and energy yield calculations in various countries like Chile, Romania, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
Then a new opportunity arose, and I took it: I relocated for six months to Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany). There I worked as an “outsourced expert” for a German spin-off from the French semi-conductor company Soitec, Soitec Solar. It was a very different job than what I was doing before. My time there was incredibly positive on different levels:
- On a technical level, I entered the research & development world and had the chance to work almost fully autonomously to develop the drive train and follow its manufacturing in Shanghai, China.
- On a personal level, I had the chance to travel maaaaany times to China (my passport was full of stamps!), visited Shanghai and learned to work with a completely Chinese team. As you can imagine, I learned a lot of new stuff and met a lot of new people.
Back to where I started (location-wise)
After that adventure, I moved back to Belgium and became the project manager for several projects in Morocco, Chile, and Belgium.
As project manager, I was often asked to draft the technical part of offers for clients. After a while, I transferred officially to the sales team. This move was totally outside my comfort zone! I started with the intention of staying in that position for one year, wanting to shift back to the technical team quickly… I ended up enjoying the work very much and learned so much on different levels previously unknown to me (legal, financial, commercial, etc.). I remained on the sales team for six years!
One day, I came across an offer for the construction supervision of a wind project in Belgium. This was something I had always wanted to try! It would allow me to be more involved in the technical aspects of the project and to see the wind turbines being built from scratch. I was curious and excited about this opportunity, so I took a bold step: I put myself forward as a candidate for the job.
Back to where I started, this time job-wise!
To my delight, I got selected! That’s how I got into construction supervision and how I returned to the technical team. I followed the construction of two wind turbines for one year. Here again, I learned a lot of new stuff and met a lot of new people. I must admit that it was very challenging, with stressful situations that needed immediate action and quick thinking.
The icing on the cake was that I got my fifteen minutes of fame: I was featured on the local news to present the project! After that, I applied as a newscaster… just kidding! 😉
When the construction came to an end, I had the opportunity to take over the management of my team. I had managed projects and project teams before, but not a product itself. I am still team leader, learning a lot of new stuff and meeting a lot of new people.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, the recurring theme of these experiences is that “I learned a lot of new stuff and met a lot of new people”. This is my main driver! I am very lucky to have had all these opportunities, and hope to be able to carry on this way.
Besides my “official” job, I am involved in an internal association of workers at Tractebel committed to improving employee well-being through various channels of dialogue with the management. I am also member of Energy Assistance, a non-profit organization created by Tractebel members 20 years ago who put their capabilities to the service of others. The organization is mainly active in developing countries, supplying energy access to places where it is needed, such as schools and hospitals. Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in a project in Belgium to place a PV system at a home for elderly and disabled people! It was great to be part of such a positive initiative.
These “side hustles” require some personal time and commitment, but it’s really motivating to be part of the greater Tractebel community.
Now, after 12 years at Tractebel and six different “jobs” in the renewable field, I can undoubtedly testify that it is possible to have multiple and diverse experiences within one career. One that allows continuous learning and meeting many different, interesting people along the way, and it’s not over… my professional life still has a lot of years (!) left, leaving many options open for the future!
Always dare to say “yes”!
My career at Tractebel has been a journey of learning, growing and exploring different opportunities outside my comfort zone. I met inspiring people who gave me the confidence to explore these challenges. More than having a clear direction to where you want to go (this is nice of course, but not all of us have clear direction and ambitions for our future), having people on your side who encourage you to move forward is key. I believe this is true for everyone, but especially for girls who can sometimes be more cautious on the opportunities that they take.
To sum it up, as one of my colleagues would say, “always dare to say yes!”
If you too are interested in a versatile career with great opportunities and would like to take on tasks that help drive the energy transition, take a look at our job offers.