Interview with Tobias Schaap, Damen Cruise

We meet Tender Manager Tobias Schaap in the brand-new office of Damen Cruise, Ropax and Offshore in Rotterdam. The offices have been in use for less than a week. “We are the newest part of Damen”, Tobias tells us excitedly. But that is not the only new thing. “Right now, I am working for the ‘De Beers’ project, the world’s first newly built diamond recovery vessel.”

Stepping into something new

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Tobias welcomes us at the new offices where they are completing the finishing touch. “We moved last week, so this is our first full work week in this new location.” Walking around the different departments Tobias shares how his career at Damen started nearly four years ago after he graduated in Naval Architecture at TU Delft. “I started with a two year general traineeship and worked for different departments within the Damen Shipyards Group. After this period, I joined as one of the first employees the startup Damen Cruise, Ropax and Offshore. I really like the idea of stepping into something new”, he enthusiastically explains.

“When we started two years ago, nothing was defined yet. We just had an idea: building state-of-the-art cruise, ropax and offshore vessels.” So, Tobias became Design & Proposal Engineer for Offshore Vessels.

“After a few months we decided that we needed to approach tenders a bit different than we usually do within Damen. We decided that we had to work with teams in the proposal phase. A team needs someone that is responsible for the outcome and therefore we created the role of Tender Manager. Basically, that means coordinating all activities in the proposal phase. And that is my job!”

‘De Beers’

One of the first big tenders for Tobias as a Tender Manager was the ‘De Beers’ tender. He explains: “It became the first offshore contract we have signed with Damen Cruise, Ropax and Offshore.”

The project is called Additional Mining Vessel 3 and it is a large diamond recovery vessel. “This vessel will have a crawler that is recovering diamonds from the seabed in front of the coast of Africa. The soil will be transported to the vessel and on board the diamonds are separated from the soil. After that raw diamonds will be flown towards shore and are further processed into diamonds that end up in your rings, for example.” This project is not only a first for Tobias and Damen, it is the first newly built vessel for recovering diamonds in the whole world. “I got really lucky that I was involved from day one and of course very proud of what we have achieved in this tender as a team.”

Tender Manager

As a Tender Manager, Tobias coordinates the whole tender process. “This includes the engineering coordination, procurement and yard activities, planning and document control. Quite challenging because we have suppliers from all over the world, physically we are building the vessel at our new shipyard in Mangalia in Romania and we are sitting here in Rotterdam”, he tells. So that means a lot of calling, skype-conferences, but also traveling. Tobias visits the yard in Romania about once a month. “I think it is really exciting to work with different nationalities. Everybody has their own traditions, ideas and understandings. That makes it very interesting because you learn a lot about different cultures, how to deal with that and making sure that everyone is on the same page and strives for the same goals.”

Foundation for success

According to Tobias, teamwork is very important for a project to succeed. “The foundation for success is to lay trust in your team and give them the space so they can excel in what they do best. Very important, for me personally. I am still relatively young and don’t have thirty years of experiences I can rely on. Therefore, I really have to trust my colleagues and their experience. It is a learning process”, he explains. “I am very happy that Damen gave me this chance to step up to the plate and work as a Tender Manager. They look closely at what your talents are, where you want to go and give you opportunities through new roles and challenges.” Working at Damen is much more than getting opportunities. “They organize a lot of different, cool activities, for example with Young Damen. We do that to bring together the youngest from different parts of the company. A great company to be part of.”

Be part of the transition

At the age of thirty, Tobias has already achieved a lot. “Do you have any ambitions for the future?”, we ask him. “My ambition is to bring Damen Cruise, Ropax and Offshore to the next level. At this moment we are quite busy with our first projects, but what will be very interesting and challenging in the future is the next phase. How do you transfer something you do for the first time into a sustainable business? I am looking forward to being part of that transition.”

Specialties from different areas

And they need colleagues to make that possible. “The industry of maritime technology or shipbuilding in general is very wide, so we need a lot of different talents. Not only at Damen but also at other companies in the industry. In the end it is all teamwork, so you need specialties from different areas, level of experiences and ages. It really doesn’t matter where you come from. For Damen Cruise, Ropax and Offshore it is important you have ambitions on the one side, but also like working in a not yet 100% fixed organization. We are still in development. We are all entrepreneurial and step up to the plates to move in the right direction. That is the spirit that unites us, no matter where we come from and what our specialty is.”

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