The advantages of NLingenieurs' international activities
Willemien Bosch, director general of Koninklijke NLingenieurs (Royal Dutch Engineers), attended the annual conference of FIDIC, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers from 10 to 12 September. She wrote the following blog about her visit.
On my way back in the train from Geneva to Rotterdam, I am overthinking the past couple of days during which I visited the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) annual Global Infrastructure Conference. A total of 400 participants from all over the world came together to exchange experiences and discuss future developments in the field of infrastructure.
The theme of the conference was “Building a better tomorrow, by investing today: Sustainable infrastructure development to improve community wellbeing.”
FIDIC, known to many because of the coloured ‘rainbow range’ of FIDIC contracts, has reinvented itself over the past decade to stay relevant and continue emphasizing the essential role of the engineering world in the major social challenges we face. Recognizing that in order to solve these challenges, we need to join forces, not only within our industry, but also in a much broader perspective. This has led to a conference in which a wide range of stakeholders participated, from finanancial institutions, to clients and conservation organizations like WWF.
Besides listening to inspiring stories and discussing about the global challenges, I had the opportunity to meet with colleagues of member associations to share best practices and join forces.
However, me being inspired, expanding my network and learning from other member associations is not enough. I asked myself the question: ‘How is FIDIC and NLingenieurs’ involvement and participation in its initiatives relevant for our member companies in The Netherlands?’
I have shared some thoughts on this with my new friends from the other member associations and with the Dutch delegates who attended the conference and who are actively involved as member in several FIDIC committees. Based on their input and my own thoughts, I would like to describe the added value of our FIDIC membership along the line of four observations.
- Most of the challenges we face in the Netherlands are challenges on a global level as well.
On a strategic level we share global challenges like Climate Change, Workforce and Digital Transformation. And even the solutions to address are very much the same, but the challenges on a national level differ and we can learn from each other. The FIDIC network helps with an outside-in perspective to validate these trends and offers inspiration to address them. On top of that, as an industry we can join forces on topics that are relevant to all of us and lobby for our mutual benefits. An example is our growing dependance on data and technology which is unlocked by only a few Big Tech companies.
- Member companies have very diverse interests and needs.
Our larger members overall have a wide range of international activities, offices abroad and their own network with clients, government representatives and subcontractors. Smaller and medium enterprises either work in a specific domain internationally or focus mainly on national activities. Through NLingenieurs, FIDIC offers the small and medium sized enterprises an opportunity to build a network and expand internationally. The inspiring story of Adam Bialachowski, which I will address later, is proof of this.
- Dutch firms are valued highly in the international community for their knowledge and ability to deliver creative and innovative solutions.
Escpecially around water resilience and flood defence, sustainable development, contract management and leadership we are known abroad. FIDIC provides a stage where we can spotlight these activities and share our latest developments on these topics in order to maintain that position and be found by the international community. FIDIC offers the opportunity to spotlight our expertise in these fields with their awards programm, their yearly conference and through active participation in relevant committees, councils and their Global Leadership Forum. They involve in policy and advocacy towards global organisations and partnerships.
- FIDIC and EFCA give access to a very valuable network of organizations in Europe and worldwide.
In just a couple of days I received invitations from my colleague member associations from Italy, Germany, the Nordic countries, New Zealand, Zambia and Colombia to share information, approaches and our network. For those who have their focus more on European developments, and need support on matters in relation with the European Committee, there is the European Federation of Engineering Consultancies (EFCA). EFCA is liaising with FIDIC and their activities are closely connected. EFCA organizes lobby and advocacy towards the European Committee and is working on a coordinated approach in supporting the reconstruction of Ukraine.
To conclude, I would like to spotlight two of many inspiring people I met. The first is Latoya Ouna Kavisi, a young independent engineer from Kenya. She joined the FIDIC Future Leaders Advisory Council, contributed to a publication to identify and promote the interests of future leaders and is on a mission to give better access to good contracting conditions in Kenya and the broader region of Africa.
Another story is that of Adam Bialachowski from Poland. He has been a member of the FIDIC Future Leaders Council for the last six years, and has chaired it for the past two. Together with his two brothers, he runs his own engineering and consultancy company in Poland. Through FIDIC he was able to strengthen his international network and grow his business to Romania, Ukraine and the Baltic States.
Just four weeks into my new job as Director General of NLingenieurs, the timing for this conference couln’t have been better for me. It was a crash course that gave me great insights in the international engineering and consultancy world. And above all, it convinced me of the relevance of our participation in this international network.
I hope to be able to pass this on to our members and their clients and boost our involvement in FIDIC and EFCA activities, because the challenges we face don’t end at our border and active participation really adds value to your business and expands your possibilities!