Maarten Jongen. Managing Director of Damen Shipyards Singapore
Working for Damen as an expat
Almost a year ago, Maarten Jongen, Managing Director of Damen Shipyards Singapore, traded the shipyard in Gorinchem for our production site in Southeast Asia. There he heads a sizeable team involved in the production and repair of high-speed aluminium vessels. What’s it like to make such a huge change?
“My job in Singapore is a fantastic opportunity and something I’d long been hoping for. Owing to circumstances, it all went more quickly than I’d expected. There was about a two-month gap between my decision to go abroad and my actual departure. My wife Mirthe and I have been here almost a year now. It’s a huge step to emigrate and it takes a lot of preparation, but it’s also liberating. It turns out that we really didn’t need all the possessions that we’d acquired down through the years. In the end, we left with only five full suitcases. The culture shock was not too bad. I’d already spent more than 150 days a year in Singapore and environs as the Regional Sales Director Asia Pacific, my previous position. It was very intense but fun too, and I learned a lot.
“My job now is very different. Instead of hitting the road as a sales manager, I am responsible for everyday affairs at a production location that employs about 300 people. We build about 20 ships a year here and carry out approximately 100 repair jobs. The fun thing about working in this yard is that I have a very small, close-knit team on the one hand but still belong to the ‘bigger’ Damen family on the other. The employees here are every bit as committed to the company as my colleagues back in Gorinchem.
“And my relationship with my colleagues here in Singapore is just as pleasant, although it has taken more effort than we expected to build up a social network. But we were warned about that. All in all, it’s been an exciting year, both personally and professionally, full of challenges and new experiences – and it’s left me with very fond memories.”