With his fierce drive and ambition, Erwin Albers, a project manager for Heras Special Projects (HSP), was promoted from technician to his current project management position in record time. ‘Heras has given me the opportunity to develop within the organisation, and I’ve decided to go for it 100%.’
When Erwin returned from a world trip he embarked on in 2012 after having worked as a technician for some time, he was adamant he did not want to return to his old job.
Heras’ director of operations at the time saw potential in him and ensured that he received the training he needed to become a coordinator. ‘That did mean I had to start working as a technician at first in order to gain product experience. And although I’d decided earlier I no longer wanted to do that, it turned out to be an excellent experience, one that has taught me a lot.’
Learning something every day
But Erwin wanted more, having set his sights on a project management job, preferably in the Special Projects department (these projects might include, for example, work in correctional facilities). ‘When I told my manager about my interest, he gave me the opportunity to enrol in a course. I decided on a bachelor’s course in Project Management, which meant studying during the evenings and weekends. It was hard work, but that’s how I achieved my goal of becoming a project manager in HSP’. His very first project involved a million-euro-plus contract: ‘We had to upgrade the outdoor security systems of a gas company, a job that took nine months to complete. It was super-challenging! A lot of people seem to associate Heras strictly with fences, but we manufacture all kinds of other products as well, including entrance control systems and detection. And that’s really what makes the work so much fun – I continue to learn new things every day.’
As a project manager, Erwin might supervise as many as 10 projects simultaneously: ‘My favourite part of any project is getting started: the process of reading up on background information and developing a feel for the job ahead. The next step, then, is to prepare a schedule and identify the various duties and responsibilities involved. At this stage of the process, everyone is usually still getting their bearings. My job at this stage is to maintain order within the team, ensure the project gradually gets off the ground, and make sure everyone’s happy with the end result.’
Looking ahead and being alert
Ranging from ports to the petrochemical industry and from custodial and correctional institutions to metro stations, the projects in which Erwin is involved are nothing if not diverse. ‘And the pressure is always high – not just to get the project finished in time, but also to remain within the budget set. My job is to make sure this happens. How? By looking ahead, being alert and making sure everyone gives it their all. Sometimes that means working overtime, but when some members of my team have to go into work on a Saturday, I’m right there with them. Not because I have to, but because I feel it’s important to lead by example. I also want to show people that we’re all in this together. Workplace safety is a big priority at Heras, and we’ve noticed that our clients really value this and sometimes even demand it. My job comes with a lot of responsibility, but I couldn’t be happier.’