The story of Rick van den Belt

‘I discovered what I really found important in my work. And that is what I am finding here at Witteveen+Bos.’

After 14 years, Rick van den Belt last year left Witteveen+Bos for a job elsewhere. Exactly one year later he returned to his old nest. In this interview, the Safety and Risk Communication group leader tells us why. 

The beginning

In 2007, Rick completed his University of Applied Sciences (HBO) Integrated Safety Studies (ISS) at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede. This broad education programme teaches students to become a safety expert. At the time, future perspectives were focused on positions such as public order or disaster management policy consultant, or consultant with the police force or fire department. Jobs in the engineering or consulting world were less common. Yet, in 2007, Rick ended up with Witteveen+Bos.

‘PMC Soil was putting a lot of effort into developing the Safety and Working Conditions group. Immediately after my studies I joined this group as Junior Consultant. I soon became independently involved in projects. At Witteveen+Bos you are quickly given the opportunity to grow in your profession and gain experience. My first large project also was a high-profile project: I was given the opportunity to work for the City of Amsterdam as safety consultant during the implementation phase of the North/South Metro Line project. It was a fantastic challenge from a structural as well as safety perspective with engineering works such as a bored tunnel below the centre of Amsterdam and the construction of a number of deep-lying stations in a densely built-up urban environment.

In the subsequent years I advanced in my career to become project manager, and I also became group leader of the Safety and Risk Communication group. As consultant and project manager, I was extensively involved in integrated safety for projects at Rijkswaterstaat. For example, I worked on the Utrecht Ring Road project and the Reeve Locks near the City of Kampen in the Netherlands. I was also an Integrated Safety project consultant for various Rijkswaterstaat organisational units, such as Programmes, Projects and Maintenance (PPO) for the Northern and Eastern Netherlands. I also provided advice on (integrated) safety aspects for various design and construction projects. Generally in the infrastructure and civil engineering sectors, including the new development or renovation of moveable civil engineering structures, such as bridges and locks, as well as buildings, flood defence structures and urban development and environmental projects.

At the end of last year, after long consideration, I decided to leave Witteveen+Bos after 14 years. I came across a challenging position as Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Coordinator in the food industry. It was also a challenging position with lots of responsibility. Yet I was unable to find my niche there. I missed the collaboration in projects with Witteveen+Bos colleagues from different disciplines, as well as with clients and external experts.

The return

Fortunately, I maintained excellent contacts with my direct colleagues at Witteveen+Bos last year. After I resigned from my HSE Coordinator position, it did not take long before discussions with Witteveen+Bos started. I immediately regained that good and trusted feeling again. After the initial interview, I immediately felt like I wanted to start working here again. Fortunately, the feeling was mutual. After exactly one year to the day I am back in the ‘old nest’ again. At the time of my departure, a number of examples came up of colleagues who had also returned after they decided to go take a look somewhere else. At the time I did not think about that of course, but now it would appear that working at Witteveen+Bos is something that never completely leaves you. For me this is especially related to the interesting and challenging projects, the (multidisciplinary) collaboration, the opportunities you are given for your own personal development and entrepreneurship, and the very nice and pleasant (working) atmosphere. 

One comment I heard after my return that really hit the mark was: ‘It’s always good to complete an internship somewhere else.’ This is how I see it as well: I took on a new challenge, gained new experiences and discovered what I really found important in my work. And that is what I am finding here at Witteveen+Bos.’

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