The story of SEW Energy, founded in 1996 in the Dutch village of Broek op Langedijk, is an impressive one. What began as a maintenance company supporting the local food industry has now after 25 years grown into one of the main suppliers to the Dutch energy market. A recent chance meeting led to SEW Energy employing its first member of staff in India via recruiter WorldEmp. With a second staff member soon to join the team, this is a fine example of cooperation between two AYOP members.
It was around a year ago that SEW Energy director Pascal Kool bumped into Frank Korf from WorldEmp at an AYOP event.
A new partnership was the result as Pascal was seeking new personnel for his growing company and Frank had the answer. WorldEmp was able to meet the needs of SEW Energy using a unique remote-working concept that matches talent from abroad with Dutch companies.
But first let’s return to the work of SEW Energy, which supplies maintenance services and pipe spools (industrial pipes) to Dutch oil & gas operators. “We can deliver everything that is placed above water,” explains Pascal. “That includes piping structures, equipment and the people required to maintain the pipes, and remove them temporarily for cleaning purposes or to replace a gasket.” It is very much custom work, adds Pascal “Our expert welders and fitters put the structures together based on drawings. Nothing is straight or straightforward. Everything has bends, T junctions and Y pieces.” The demand for such specialist products is growing, hence the need for more personnel to take on activities such as preparing the work packages. However, as is the case in so many sectors, finding the right people is a real challenge. “We currently have four or five vacancies,” says Pascal.
WorldEmp is specialised in finding and coaching highly educated staff from abroad who work in modern offices in India for their Dutch employers. “Frank explained the concept to me and I was immediately enthusiastic,” Pascal continues. “There was initially a certain degree of scepticism among my colleagues, which is logical when you consider what such a solution entails for the company in areas such as procedures and computer programs which are in Dutch. Thankfully, under the supervision of WorldEmp, we had the opportunity to find out how it worked in practice. And the system works surprisingly well.”
So much so that SEW Energy is now looking for a second colleague in India. Because that is what Ganesh has now become – a true colleague. “Initially we found it a little challenging to know how best to fit Ganesh in. Completed work packages are normally handed over to the production manager physically, and suddenly there was a distance to cover. Instructions and drawings needed to be printed, for example. But now we have worked out a process where Ganesh does this directly himself.” There are now plans for Ganesh to visit the Netherlands. Pascal “This will help us get to know each other better as colleagues, break down any barriers, and ensure that Ganesh can later support new colleagues who join SEW Energy in India. Yes, he is very much a part of the team.”
Pascal emphasises that this does not mean that all the work will eventually be done by colleagues in India. “We are also looking to fill the current vacancies with people in the Netherlands. The fact that it is cheaper to hire someone elsewhere is not the issue – the simple fact is that we couldn’t find someone to do the job in the Netherlands while we could in India. While the chance exists that we will hire more Indian colleagues if that continues to be the case, we are going to make sure we have the right balance. It’s also worth noting that SEW Energy is used to employing people from abroad – we’ve had Portuguese welders working for us for a long time, for instance. The difference is that they work in the workshop, and for the office this is a new phenomenon.”
At the end of the day SEW Energy from Broek op Langedijk is managing to increase its workforce in an innovative way. One which started with a shake of hands at an AYOP networking event. Pascal: “These events are clearly valuable. After all, that’s how I found Ganesh in India.”
Frank Korf, founder and CEO at WorldEmp