Noortje Stevens is Nordex Group’s first woman wind service technician in the Netherlands and for the former maritime officer, swapping jobs has been a fun learning experience she cherishes every single day
What exactly do you do for a living? Do you always have to climb on the top of a wind turbine? And how do you plan your toilet breaks? These are only some of the questions 24-year-old Noortje Stevens often gets asked about her profession. As Nordex’s first woman wind service technician – working for one of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers – she knows her job is uncommon and that is something she enjoys the most.
Making the switch
Sailing as a maritime officer and chief engineer in her previous job meant that Noortje always had beautiful work views and extended periods away from home. After a year on the water, she decided to change the course and use her maritime skills in the wind industry. The transition was smooth, and it also meant that she could spend more time at home. At Atlas, we believe in the smooth transfer of skills and since both the hard and soft skills for wind are a good match with those in the marine sector, we can put our candidates at ease and show them the opportunities ahead. “I saw a post from Atlas Professionals on LinkedIn, saying that they had an opening for an onshore wind technician. While my expertise was in the maritime industry, some skills were common, and I decided to contact them. The conversation was useful, and they assured me that the transition would be easy. I just had to brush up on some certifications and I am glad I had this guidance,” she reminisces.
Same but different
The industry is diverse and having the freedom to do her job her way made working in wind an interesting choice for Noortje, “I currently work in the southern province of the Netherlands, it is closer to where I live. I was not looking for an office job at one location and being a wind technician means I get to visit different areas every week.” She says, “If I look at it, working in wind is really like sailing a ship, isn’t it? While sailing you are busy with the engines or your cargo and planning the routes. While I do not have to do all of that now, I still have a mechanical part, we troubleshoot things and there is a big electrical part to my work. Sometimes mechanical parts or electrical systems break down and we have to repair them. The same goes for troubleshooting, when we see a turbine is at standstill with a failure, we must figure out how to repair it, for this the IT part plays a big role. After a safety course, a working at height course and some wind park and job specific training I was ready to work with a wind turbine and start learning on the job.”
Climbing on top
Noortje’s day starts at a service point, from there on along with her buddy she moves to a wind turbine that needs servicing or maintenance. On a lucky day, she can use the lift, but on some days, it also means climbing to the top. “I like working in the wind industry, and I enjoy the freedom that the profession brings. You work in teams of two, work is always well planned and once you are on the top – it is always so beautiful. What most people think is that we don’t have to climb up, but most of our work is performed on top in the nacelle or the hub,” she laughs.
Plan of action
With very few women in the industry, the facilities are still at a developing stage. Her day-to-day life hence must be thoroughly planned and, yes, it includes planning her toilet breaks. “We have to drive over an hour sometimes from the service point to reach the wind turbine. And once you are up there, the work goes fast. The passage is narrow and of course, there are no washrooms. So, if a break is necessary, there is always a fuelling station close by. You must be flexible and get used to it,” she shares. While in the maritime industry, she had some women colleagues. In the wind industry it is different, Noortje feels, “It is also may be because not everyone enjoys working at a height.” Recommending anybody to join the industry, she says, “I gain a lot of technical and IT knowledge every day on the job and that makes it worthwhile. Besides that, I get to click the most beautiful pictures and see things from an eagle-eye view.”
Find more stories from our professionals in the latest edition of Heroes 2022