DISCOVER Magazine #7

Bob Derks. Managing Director for Damen ARNO Dunkerque, France

Published in category: Countries
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43 years old and married to Eefke

Has: three children, Jonas, Bastiaan and Freeke
Chooses: the ASD Tug as his favourite Damen ship

“I’ve flown all round the world, from Russia to Kazakhstan and China to the Americas and back again, for Offshore and newbuilding. Then the time came when I wanted my family with me on this great adventure. The five of us left for Dunkirk, France last year, where I’ve now been appointed Managing Director. There’s less travel than in my previous positions, but it’s not without its own challenges. A new country, a new language – we’re adapting, bit by bit.

I was the first person in this yard who wasn’t of French origin, but everyone welcomed me with open arms. The company culture is very pleasant here. The first thing we do at the start of each day is to shake one another’s hands. That’s comme il faut, as they say here. Before I left I took a high-intensity French course in the Netherlands and my colleagues in the yard simply correct me if I garble my grammar or pronunciation. My wife already speaks French fluently, and I’m well on my way.

My ideal day off? It would have to be a day on the beach. Our house is only five hundred metres from the coast and very close to the shipyard. Weekends are always filled with beach strolls and dune walks, but I’d love to start playing tennis again too. Coming from ‘Noord-Brabant’, a province in the south of the Netherlands, I really feel at home in Dunkirk because the people here celebrate carnival, just like we do. In fact, their carnival goes on for at least three months!”

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