30 October 2023
Project Manager Renee Melis is the first female project manager in the Strukton Catenary and Catenary Support Structures business unit. A challenging job and that’s exactly what keeps her happy.
“I joined Strukton Rail four years ago through a secondment firm. My parents are Dutch, but I was born and raised in Noosa in North-eastern Australia. I visited the Netherlands to learn about my roots, liked the country and decided to stay if I would be able to find a job with a company similar to the company where I worked as a civil engineer in Australia. That was a large company with lots of possibilities and lots of attention for development and training.”
“I started as a junior work planner, while I already had three years work experience in Australia. This was because, while I spoke Dutch, I was unable to read and write it. I still consider it special that Strukton hired me and gave me confidence despite this language barrier. Since January 2023, I have been working as project manager on the Schiphol Tunnel Major Maintenance and the Leeuwarden Emplacement Renewal projects. In the Schiphol Tunnel we are converting the overhead line structure and installation to a contact rail structure and installation. This is necessary to be able to modify the platform height, making it easier for passengers to get on and off the train. In Leeuwarden we are expanding the overhead line on the tracks in the direction Harlingen and Sneek up to the Van Harinxma Canal. The improved infrastructure provides for improved train service and increased sustainable mobility.”
I still consider it special that I was hired and given confidence despite this language barrier.
“As project manager I am responsible for our share of the project and I monitor the budget. I focus on the billable costs, verify that we are working in accordance with the correct procedures, guidelines and requirements as set out in the contract, that everything is in accordance with the design and that the materials and machines are available. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that everyone works together as a team to get the work done. This may sound simple, but it can be a challenge at times when you are dealing with different railway contractors and subcontractors. These are all different people and personalities who have to start on time and who need to know what they have to do. It is a position with many responsibilities and to put it succinctly: as a woman in a man’s world I have to stand my ground.”
At Strukton you are in charge of your own development and you have lots of options if you want to continue to grow
“I took the step of changing from a work planner position to project manager because it is important for me to continue to be challenged to do even better. This is an integral aspect of my character, and at Strukton you have lots of options and you can also expand your breadth of knowledge and experience. You are in charge of your own development here and Strukton invests in you. For me the sky is the limit and I want to be able to be a project manager in every discipline. I am already familiar with the civil side and now I am learning more about rail infrastructure. If I had stayed in Australia, I would have worked on a railway project there as well. For me, having become a project manager at Strukton Rail was meant to be.”