Emma van der Veen and Fieke ’t Hoen over werken bij TenneT
'It’s like the subway, the whole system is interconnected and constantly changing. How can you make sure it keeps working? And that the supply of electricity remains uninterrupted?’ Emma van der Veen and Fieke ’t Hoen work at TenneT – the Transmission System Operator responsible for a stable electricity network in the Netherlands and a large part of Germany. Emma and Fieke are international trainees and constantly keeping these questions in mind. They give us a small insight in their developing careers and what it’s like to be an international trainee at TenneT.
‘The international trainee programme is a 2-year programme in which you work at three different departments within the company’, Emma explains. With a background in Applied Mathematics from Twente University and Climate Studies from Wageningen University, she decided to apply for a position as trainee at TenneT. ‘I was interested because TenneT is a technical company and also because sustainability is an important topic for the organisation as well as for me.’
Fieke has the same motivation but a different background. She has a bachelor in Innovation Science and a master in Sustainable Energy Technologies from Eindhoven University of Technology. Besides that, Fieke is fascinated by electricity – ‘It’s technical, complex and important for society’ – and interested in the trainee programme because of the possibility to develop her social skills, to discover different aspects in the company and the possibilities to go abroad to, for example, Germany.
The ultimate combination of interests and knowledge
At this moment, both trainees are already working on their third project; the end of their international trainee programme is close at hand. They began their programmes almost 2 years ago. ‘Together with our Programme Manager we searched for an assignment with the ultimate combination of our own interests and knowledge and development goals’, Fieke says.
Emma began at the Risk and Portfolio Management department, where, amongst others, the risks in the electricity network are optimised (as low as possible) by smart planning of projects. After 8 months, she completed her project and moved to another department: Regulation NL. In her current position at System Operations-System Services, she works on a pilot project. With this project, TenneT examines whether new and/or renewable energy technologies can contribute to maintaining the balance on the electricity network in the future. ‘In this project, I really enjoy working with people from different backgrounds and trying to understand their ideas and problems in order to come to the best solution.'
Diversity of the company
Fieke began her trainee programme at System Operations – System Services. ‘At this department I arranged that a daily forecast of solar and wind energy is produced for TenneT and published on a so-called transparency website. How much energy comes from sun and wind? How can it be used in our daily business? How does it fit IT-wise in our secured system? In this project I collaborated with my German colleagues a lot.’ After her first project, Fieke decided to go to the ‘breeding ground of investments’: Asset Management – Grid Development. ‘In this department I had the possibility to follow a project from beginning to end, from defining a project to realisation.’ Fieke is now working at the Customers and Markets department- Market Development. ‘We do all kinds of projects related to the future electricity market. How can we make sure that renewables fit?’ In all research projects, Germany is an interesting neighbour. ‘They have more renewables in their system and already understand the related technical problems related’, Fieke says.
It’s in the small things
Searching for a new assignment at a new department is easy. Each department is very open and willing to show what they are doing. ‘During the search for my second assignment I went to a dock in Germany to see how they were building an offshore wind turbine platform. These ‘sockets at sea’ are immense. It was a great experience!’ Fieke says.
Besides the challenging projects, both woman really like the working environment at TenneT. 'People are friendly and willing to help, even if you don’t know them at first’, Emma says. ’They make time to drink a cup of coffee with you or to explain something’, Fieke explains. ‘Even the management is very approachable. When we started with the trainee programme, we had a dinner and one of the board members joined us.’ That shows the commitment to the programme, these small gestures are invaluable. They increase the possibility to learn more and grow further.
Both Emma and Fieke are already looking back on a successful international trainee programme. The experiences and growth on a professional as well as a personal level will provide the perfect starting point for the next step in their TenneT careers.