Offshore wind energy is one of the most rapidly growing industries right now, driving the green energy transition – and creating extraordinary career opportunities. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind is a leading player in the industry with an exponential growth rate, Operations Service Manager Suzanne van der Linden shares her pride and excitement about her job.
“Renewables are on the right side of history. Besides the fact that we’re a clean energy source we’re taking the place of old energy sources because costs are coming down. We’re now very competitive on just cost alone. MHI Vestas is one of the leading wind turbine manufacturers in the world, and we’re focused exclusively on offshore wind. We have built and currently operate the most powerful wind turbines in the world, so honestly, I think this is the most exciting industry to be part of right now,” she says.
Suzanne van der Linden is Operations Service Manager for Danish-headquartered MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, which designs, manufactures, installs and services wind turbines for the offshore wind industry. Based in Ijmuiden, The Netherlands, she has responsibility for two major wind farms off the coast of Holland: Eneco Luchterduinen and Princess Amalia. It’s her job to manage a team of 28 people, mainly technicians, who service both sites.
“I love my team’s drive and motivation,” she says. “It’s touching to see, actually. We all have the feeling that we’re doing something together to provide for our sustainable future. The industry is so fast-moving that we all have to work together just to be able to cope with the pace of change. We need to combine our knowledge so that people can shine in their own fields of expertise. That’s the cherry on the cake for me.”
This is an exciting time to be working in offshore wind, says Suzanne. Apart from being at the forefront of a vital new, continuously growing industry, it offers countless career possibilities for experts in the areas of among others LEAN manufacturing, Project Management, Engineering and Operations and Service. Service Technicians, for example, can learn various skills, including mechanical, technical, electrical and hydraulic. Yet, the sector needs a constant pipeline of new talent; so, Suzanne believes it’s important to get the message out to young people about the skills required and the jobs on offer. It’s why she goes into schools to talk specifically about her work and the role of MHI Vestas as a renewables company. “Whenever I talk to students about this industry, they are really enthusiastic about it. And that’s good, because we’ll need more people with technical skills in the future to meet the demand for wind energy.”
As Operations Service Manager, Suzanne is charged with the recruitment of service technicians, and works closely with Atlas Professionals to find people with the right skills from the local area who can be on site within 45 minutes. “I am confident we will find the talent we need overall, but it’s not always easy in some locations. We’re still a relatively young industry,” she says. “Atlas are well known for their experience in the wind industry, so that’s why I asked for their help.”
It’s also why she was delighted to take part in the first Atlas Professionals Wind Experience Day, which took place in Ijmuiden in March, and was designed to show students and technical professionals the different career opportunities in the wind industry. “It attracted around 70 potential new employees,” remembers Suzanne. “We did a presentation about our work and the future of offshore wind; plus, we ran safety and rescue workshops which were really good fun. We also brought some oversize tools and parts with us – because anyone interested in working in the sector has to realise that everything on a wind turbine is big.”
In fact, one of the many things she loves about her job is getting up close to an offshore wind farm. “Have you ever done that?” she asks. “It’s really amazing! There you are with the turbines, the wind and the sea, and you really feel part of the landscape. It’s indescribable.”
MHI Vestas Offshore Wind has been leading the way in offshore wind since its inception in 2014. That’s because it’s a business that thrives on continuous innovation, insists Suzanne. “We’re open to new ideas and constantly pushing boundaries to see if things can be done smarter and more efficiently. Like all companies we want to be a global player in offshore wind, and we’re active in new markets such as Asia-Pacific and the US.”
Having her own children made Suzanne think even more about the importance of renewable energy. “I wondered: ‘What kind of world am I leaving for them?’” she says. “My kids are worried about climate change and carbon emissions and I do understand their concerns. In our house we do our best to try to make them environmentally aware with, for example, energy efficient lightbulbs and not using the heating excessively. But, of course, they see the news and documentaries and they know what’s going on. In fact, they are much more environmentally aware than I was at their age. And that’s a positive thing.”