The story of Edgar Rijsdijk

As leader of the Planning Studies and Process Management PMC, Edgar Rijsdijk (54, Amsterdam) works on projects that lie somewhere between the policy and implementation phases. In part due to the increased attention being paid to local areas and the environment, his work is becoming increasingly complex. It’s one of the reasons why Edgar, after more than 23 years at Witteveen+Bos, is still enjoying himself.

Working in an area-focused manner

‘The exploratory and planning studies we conduct allow clients – often government authorities – to make decisions regarding implementation. This could be related to the construction of a bridge, for example, or the widening of a road or raising of a dyke. During the design and research process, we try to connect different challenges with one another to exploit opportunities for the local area and to add quality. But the broader the approach, the more complex the issues. I find that an interesting area of tension. For innovation and sustainability, it’s important to broaden our view. That’s why I hope that, in the future, we’ll be able more often to join in the discussion at the front end – that we’ll be able to help define challenges in their entirety. Area-focused instead of task-focused.’

Technology and different parties’ interests

‘I studied HTS and public administration at the University of Amsterdam. I started at Witteveen+Bos in 1999 as a construction project manager and then gradually came into contact with urban renewal, where interacting with the local community is very important. Then I started doing projects more concerned with infrastructure. The broad perspective I’ve developed – area-based challenges rather than just technical challenges – suits me well, because I like many things. My work isn’t only about technology; it’s also about different parties’ interests and balancing these. There’s a growing tendency in society for projects to be developed in consultation with the community; more transparency and accountability is also being required of governments. Also, the pressure on public space has increased and more demands are being made in relation to sustainability and the environment. Add that all up and it’s clear: projects are getting more and more complex.’

Relevant issues

‘It’s no coincidence that I’ve worked for Witteveen+Bos for more than 23 years. I’m still being challenged on my knowledge and competencies, and the tasks we face as a firm and as a society are extremely relevant. With this job, I can contribute to our country’s planning – to issues of water safety, accessibility and urbanisation. Every project feels like a new job, so to speak. As well as that, the company culture ensures that I feel very comfortable here. I remember calling a colleague in 1999 with a question. His immediate reply was: ‘OK, cool! So, what’s the question?’ A few weeks ago, I needed someone’s help and they reacted exactly the same way. It’s the standard attitude at Witteveen+Bos: enthusiastic, curious and development-driven. That’s how we bring out the best in one another.’

'Every project feels like a new job'

- Edgar Rijsdijk -

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