(Michiel Merkus, Atlas Account Manager, hands over an iPad to Jan Mulder, who introduced Cor Draijer as a new Atlas’ employee).
With the intention of maintaining close relationships with the most valuable professionals, this year an iPad was given to those who introduced Atlas to others. This is the story of the very first winner.
In order to build, material is needed. For offshore construction projects, supplies have to meet very specific requirements and, equally importantly, they have to be on site at a specific time. For five years, Jan Mulder (33) has worked through Atlas to make sure that wherever he’s onboard, all the necessary materials—from pencils to fire extinguishers to circuit breakers—are available at the right moment.
Keeping an overview of everything, maintaining a calm and professional attitude under pressure, and having excellent social skills are just a few requirements that one has to meet in order to be a successful materials coordinator in the offshore world. Flexibility and inventiveness are important as well, as the projects vary as much as the materials do. Last year, for example, Workfox’s self-propelled multi-purpose support vessel Seafox 5 had just been built, and Jan was asked to go onboard to set up the storage areas. “It’s quite interesting to be involved when a new vessel or platform is operated for the first time. Everything needs to be set up from scratch. An assignment like this requires different skills than those used onboard a platform where everything’s already in place,” says Jan.
A life-changing transition
After working in the Dutch Army, Jan wanted to do something different so he decided to go offshore. In 2009, he made the move to Atlas and Seafox 5, which had just started. He was chosen for the position of materials coordinator, with a rotation of four weeks on, four weeks off.
“Offshore life is not as easy as it sounds. You truly have to have a disciplined mind to keep those four weeks going. Every time I go to work I make constant use of my army mentality, hard work, spirit and attitude. 12 hours of work a day without seeing your family is not as easy as it sounds,” Jan explains.
However, despite the downsides of the job, he still enjoys it more than anything else. “It’s very hard to imagine offshore life, I remember the first time I started working—it was all technology and an exciting new world with lots of free time onshore and a much bigger salary than a simple office job.”
The main tasks
When offshore, a materials coordinator is the key person who ensures that all the necessary equipment is available on board. In addition, he contacts the purchasing department when equipment needs to be ordered, and he ensures that it arrives on the platform as soon as possible. “The main tasks are to coordinate and provide all types of items to personnel on the platform. This means that you have to be familiar with everything, and that you must have the right technical knowledge to understand engineering equipment,” says Jan.
Because the wind project ended and Seafox 5 was downsized, Jan transferred to Seafox 7 at the beginning of 2014, again as materials coordinator. His excellent performance on board Seafox 5 was recognised by Workfox and ourselves, which is why he was able to make the move to a fixed position on board Seafox 7.
One of the unique things about working offshore is the diversity of personnel. It is very common to see a wide variety of nationalities working for the same project, which Jan finds appealing: “One of the things that excite me about working offshore is the opportunity to hear stories from different people. They often tell me how life is back home, and I learn about their interesting habits and cultures.” Jan also explains many other highlights of working on Seafox 5, among them the extreme weather that must be endured. “Once there was a day when the wind reached 75 knots; it was incredibly great to witness, but at the same time quite scary.”
“I recently got married, and so far I am quite pleased that my wife is okay with me going off and on. And I have a good relationship with Atlas and my account manager. I like knowing that whenever there is a problem I can count on them to solve it. As for the future, I like adventure and change but I like Workfox and I am currently living by the day. I’m not the type of person that looks five years ahead. I am enjoying the freedom I have now, and it includes amazing offshore opportunities.”