A Champion both on and off the field
53-year-old Rob de Joode has been with Wärtsilä for the last 29 years, over half his life in fact. From slugging it out in the field to being a part of corporate decision making – Rob has been there, done that. See what motivates him to give his all to work every day.
Rob de Joode’s journey with Wärtsilä started nearly three decades ago when he donned the company’s trademark blue overalls. Cut to the present and the overalls have given way to a dapper suit and the next step in what has been a very fulfilling career.
Rob studied to be a marine engineer and spent some years sailing the seas before he joined Wärtsilä in 1990 as a commissioning engineer.
“After an intense training program, I travelled around the globe conducting engine repairs, overhauls and commissioning of marine and land based-installations,” says Rob, recalling his early days at work.
Originally from The Netherlands, Rob’s work has taken him to regions as diverse as Indonesia, China, Singapore, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and finally, Dubai where he has recently been appointed as General Manager of Field and Technical Service and for the Customer Assistance Centre for Services Unit Middle East and South Asia. His passion for taking up challenging jobs, learning about different cultures and working with the local talent has often helped him succeed in spite of sometimes limited resources.
Different people, different cultures
Rob’s talent and hard work did not go unnoticed. He was given the opportunity to develop the 2-Stroke and 4-Stroke Engine business when Wärtsilä acquired the New Sulzer Diesel in 1996. This was a crucial turning point both for Rob and Wärtsilä as it tasked him to build a way for the newly acquired company to take advantage of Wärtsilä’s already extensive global network.
“Although I was still passionate about travel and field services, I grabbed this opportunity as I had gotten married,” he says, admitting that travelling on work, like he used to, was leaving him with little time to spend with his family. From there on, there was no looking back. In 2008, he was offered – and took up – the role of Technical Manager for 2-Stroke Engines at Wärtsilä in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Working in the UAE with different cultures and colleagues from almost 25 nationalities has been so unique that it made me stay longer than the initially planned three-year period,” admits Rob. Soon enough, he was given the added responsibility of leading and managing the service delivery organisation in the region.
When the customer is king
Rob’s job fulfils his need to constantly interact with people and also combines it with the opportunity to work with new technologies and services. In fact, he believes his greatest contribution to Wärtsilä has been his ability to strive for high customer satisfaction, something that bore fruit in the first global customer agreement for 2-Stroke Engines.
“The agreement with Reederei Blue Star has been the basis for a long and fruitful business relation,” he says. “I truly enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a solution that met the customer’s every need.”
Rob’s own enthusiasm energises others and builds synergies between various stakeholders, ultimately helping keep the customers happy. “Luckily, I have a great and competent team not only in the UAE but also in the other network companies in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia – all being part of the Service Unit Middle East & South Asia.”
Rob is the first to admit that sometimes the challenges his teams face can seem daunting, but he considers them to be a learning.
“I remember my hesitation during the briefing for a crankshaft exchange on a TM410 Werkspoor engine,” he says, adding that it was his first crankshaft exchange overseas without the guidance of an experienced engineer. “I felt some concern and excitement at the same time. The job was technically challenging, and it took longer than expected, but when the engine finally roared to life, it made me feel that I could handle any job in the future. The fact that the customer was satisfied boosted my confidence.”
It is this confidence perhaps that has helped Rob keep pace with the changing dynamics within Wärtsilä as it transforms into a total solution provider that sets trends for smart technology. As the company leads the charge on renewable energy sources, building on the synergies between its Marine and Energy Businesses, Rob certainly feels ready and excited about the road ahead.