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Davy Maes

Age: 28, vice director, civil engineer, Fundex Piling Group, the Netherlands

Route to the job
In 1995 I'd spent six months on placement with Fundex while at my technical high school. After graduating in engineering from a four-year course at a technical high-school, it's possible to do a shorter course at a Technical University and I started at Delft TU in September 1996. I did this while continuing to work part-time with Fundex. I graduated from Delft Technical University as a civil engineer in October 1999 and joined Fundex's engineering department as geotechnical engineer. In September 2003 I became vice-director of the company. Without doubt, this company and some of my time at university have made me how I am now. Influences from my boss, the variety of projects and work, have given me skills, experience and expertise in the foundation world. Fundex has been a good 'school' for me - and others too.

Typical day
There is no typical day and planning of the week is almost impossible. My main role is to ensure that the design, the calculation department and the production department run well. That means that communication and accuracy is important. Contacts with clients, doing contracts and instructing people are all part of the job. This piling business lets you meet new people and clients, the whole piling industry works on short notice, which means you have to be flexible. You can spend one day in the office, another out on a project or visiting a client. That variety, I believe, is what keeps us alive and kicking.

Highs and lows
The most precious and satisfying things in this job are winning the most valuable projects in the industry. Lows occur when other companies run away with a project while the client is still 'negotiating' with us. This makes me angry, but I don't complain, I like my job a lot!

You've got to be able to deliver difficult projects in a way that is good for both the company and the client. Cost-control and speed of productivity is the difference to whether you make profit or not. It is important to improve both because clients aren't prepared to pay more - prices are almost the same as they were a decade ago. This means to make a profit we've got to be more efficient. Personally, I would like to become a leading expert in foundation technology and to develop new applications for our Fundex and Tubex systems. I'd also like to improve my knowledge in different piling systems and play a part in keeping our company at the top of the list of foundation specialists in the Netherlands and through the rest of the whole world.

Try to get a good university degree, work a few years part-time in a company and then make your career move. Listen and pay attention to the people with experience and know-how - and take your own conclusions out of it. Always ask how and why and don't accept things easily. Never loose your temper; be polite to clients and your own personnel. Think through the consequences of your actions and take responsibility when necessary!