Our knowledge sharing and staff mobility initiatives

At DHI, we focus on disseminating our global knowledge of water environments within our organisation. In so doing, we ensure that our employees are equipped to grow their own knowledge and expertise and, in turn, solve their clients’ local challenges.

To do so, we carry out several internal mobility and knowledge sharing initiatives. Last year, our employees around the world spent more than 1,000,000 man hours working on projects and tasks outside of their home country. Moreover, 3% of our people undergo inter-office transfers each year. Read the stories below to learn how our employees benefitted from our mobility initiative.


BONDING WITH COLLEAGUES ACROSS BORDERS

“It really helps if you have a connection to a co-worker who is sitting on the other side of the world. I think building personal networks is one of the major beneficial outcomes of mobility for our Group.” — Carl Jackson Johnson

Carl – an enterprising engineer from our New Zealand office – has been fairly mobile within our Group. Having worked in our offices in Denmark and the Gold Coast (Australia) for extended periods, as well as in Sydney (Australia) and Singapore for briefer stints, he is now settling down in New Zealand again.

Carl uses his training in computational and engineering sciences to crack complex problems in water environments. “I find it very satisfying to solve a complex problem by using or creating a good model,” he says. For collaborative problem-solving, mutual understanding is crucial to him. “For me, meeting colleagues is a way of enhancing mutual understanding.” He continues, “It really helps if you have a connection with a co-worker who is sitting at the other end of the world. I think building personal networks is one of the major beneficial outcomes of mobility for us.”

According to Carl, mobility thus enhances team work and knowledge sharing. He concludes by adding, “When it comes to the social aspect of work, I think it’s a lot of fun meeting new people and that is something I really enjoy when travelling for projects.”


KEEPING THE TRADITION OF MOBILITY ALIVE

“I am highly motivated by the chance to combine my interest in environmental issues with the possibility of learning across borders.” — Catherine Dagan

Catherine – an engineer with a passion for urban structures says, “Back in 2008, when I expressed an interest to moving within the global structure of the Group, my manager in France told me of an opening in Denmark and helped facilitate the move.” She continues, “I am highly motivated by the chance to combine my interest in environmental issues with the possibility of learning across borders. It is a possibility that makes us highly attractive as a Group.”

Catherine’s desire to strengthen her professional knowledge and experience was one of the factors that fuelled her intra-Group movement. “Mobility goes hand in hand with career development,” she opines. “Personally, I saw the move as career advancement. It allowed me to combine my wish to gain more knowledge in the field of urban water management with taking on new responsibilities.”


APPLYING THE PRINCIPLE OF LIFE GLOBALLY

“Mobility means the possibility to grow professionally and therefore goes hand in hand with career development.” — Guillaume Drillet

Guillaume is a passionate environmentalist with a PhD in marine biology. “Mobility means the possibility to grow professionally and therefore goes hand in hand with my career development,” he says. “Mobility is neither a horizontal nor a vertical phenomenon. No, it is really an integrated and diagonal movement as you cannot separate them.” He began in late 2010 in our office in Singapore. Ever since then, he has experienced that one of the challenges in transitioning is to make family life functional.

According to him, everyone with children should pay attention to this particular aspect of life in order to make mobility as smooth as possible. Guillaume stresses that if planned carefully, it can be a rewarding experience for both employees and their children. He remarks, “The ability to apply my professional skills in the future – to help expand the principle of life in societies across the globe – is highly motivating to me.” For him, working in various cultural contexts strengthens his skillset and understanding of ways of reducing the impact on ecosystems.


AT THE OTHER END OF THE WORLD, YET WITHIN OUR GROUP

“New job functions in another country provide me with an excellent chance to learn new professional skills.” — Keiko Yamagata

Keiko is a water management professional who transitioned from our office in Copenhagen (Denmark) to our office in Sydney (Australia) at the end of October 2012. We asked Keiko about what drove her desire to move. “Mobility is very important to me and I see it as a way of enhancing my career development and professional skills,” she reasons. “I feel it’s time for me to move on to a new base for exciting learning experiences.”

When she first transitioned from her native Japan to Europe as part of her studies, our Copenhagen office was the first rung in the ladder of her career. Learning is perceptibly important to Keiko. “New job functions in another country provide me with an excellent chance to learn new professional skills,” she says.


GLOBETROTTER IN A TRULY INTERNATIONAL GROUP

“We depend on each other in our Group and we are therefore a truly global organisation.” — Louise Korsgaard

Louise is a keen speleologist, who collaborated with us as part of her PhD. She started in our office in Singapore in 2008. She has worked on projects in our offices in New Delhi (India) and Brisbane (Australia). She made her latest transition in 2009, transferring to our head office in Denmark.

We asked Louise what motivated her many transitions. She replied, “I like to see new aspects of life and I do really appreciate a multicultural atmosphere. Growing up in Malaysia, Indonesia, Denmark and Sweden I have developed a taste for cross-cultural experiences.” She elaborated on the subject, “When I work with people from various cultures, new aspects of life and occupational tasks open up and that’s really motivating.”

For Louise, our international structure is highly attractive and the possibility of mobility across borders is a major motivational factor for her. “I enjoy solving specific problems in various countries, because cultural differences inspire me to see new aspects and solutions,” she said. “We depend on each other here and are therefore a truly global organisation.” When asked about her future with us, she replied that she would be happy to take up any significant task within the Group. She also noted that she would like her two children to experience the same cultural diversity she did growing up.



STRENGTHENING PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCIES ACROSS BORDERS

“I have been wondering many times throughout the university… what holds the future for me after graduating?” — Magdalena Trylanska

Magdalena – an energetic technician says, “Global mobility is highly critical to me. The actual ability to apply my professional skills in developing countries in the future – possibly Vietnam or the Americas – is a great personal motivator.” Elaborating on the subject, she comments that working in different cultural contexts strengthens her professional competencies and cultural awareness.

Magdalena initially collaborated with our Polish office in Warsaw in 2010, as part of a data gathering project for her Master’s thesis. Upon completion of her Master’s degree, she took up a position as a technician in 2011 in our Czech office in Prague. “I have received valuable experience working with some of the best experts in water resource management in the country,” she says. “I now look forward to expanding my knowledge in water risk management and adequate measures within the global structure of our Group.”


MOBILITY AS A MEANS TO ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

“Besides my colleagues here, I can always connect with my network in Singapore or Perth. Mobility thus makes me feel more a part of a global group.” — Raj Kumar Singh

Raj is a postgraduate in Environmental Science and Engineering with a major in environmental hydraulics. He started in our office in Singapore in 2008, transitioning to our New Delhi office (India) in 2010 with a small intermediate stopover in Perth. “I see horizontal mobility as a way of strengthening my career development by honing my cross-cultural and communicative skills. Besides that, I think mobility really allows me to gain experiences from various offices,” Raj says. He elaborates further, “When I work with people in Singapore and then move to Perth and India and I work on similar problems. However, I get to observe new approaches and this really enhances my understanding of possible solutions.”

For Raj, a major advantage of mobility is knowledge sharing and networking. “Besides my colleagues here, I can always connect with my network in Singapore or Perth. Thus, mobility makes me feel more a part of a global group,” he says.

To Raj, mobility also strengthens the group. “Enhanced cooperation secures delivery and its quality, and for a knowledge-based organisation like ours, that’s crucial.” Raj concludes by stating that we provide excellent chances of networking with colleagues in other offices. He hopes to be able to visit and work in our other offices in the future.



MATURING PROFESSIONALLY WITH MOBILITY

“Growing professionally brings out the best in me; in addition this intercultural experience also impacts on and expands my thoughts, behaviour and self-reflection. I therefore grow as a person as well.” — Sibtey Hasan

Sibtey stayed in our office in DHI-Wasy Syke (Germany) from September to December 2012 and is planning to go there again in March 2013. The inspired engineer, currently working at our office in New Delhi (India), has a curious mind and appetite for global experiences. We asked him about the driving forces behind his move.

Sibtey quickly replied that he was planning to follow his wife, who just recently took up a post-doctoral fellowship position in Germany. Referring to his first three months there, he pointed out the following, “I like the experience of differences in terms of culture, various procedures and new professional challenges, even though the German tongue is a hard one,” he added with a laugh.

For Sibtey, mobility really comes down to the possibility of maturing professionally, and interesting enough, personally. “Growing professionally brings out the best in me; in addition this inter-cultural experience also impacts on and expands my thoughts, behaviour and my self-reflection. I therefore grow as a person as well.” Sibtey continues, “The language barrier is a challenge and certainly the northern weather as well. But what is attractive is that I not only get to participate in this great learning experience, but to also follow my wife. That is the beauty of DHI; managerial flexibility and support of employees’ wishes, if possible!”


MERGING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WITH GROUP REQUIREMENTS

“I appreciate the steep learning curve provided by new tasks and problems; mobility is really a great learning experience. I guess knowledge sharing is what motivates me in the end.” — Victor Hoa

Victor is a Singaporean environmental engineering professional, who transitioned from our office in Singapore to Perth (Australia) in 2012. When asked about the driving force behind his desire to move, Victor replies, “I see the chance of intra-group transitioning as a way of enhancing my professional skills.” He continues, “I appreciate the steep learning curve provided by new tasks and problems. Mobility is really a great learning experience. I guess knowledge sharing is what motivates me in the end.”

Victor stresses that transitioning also takes a lot of effort and discipline. According to him, mobility is a great opportunity – especially if it enhances the professional skills of the employee. “Moving for the sake of moving is counterproductive for both our group and the individual; we should always aim for a merge between group requirements and employee wishes, and align this with a knowledge sharing goal,” he opines.


ENHANCING PROFESSIONAL LEARNING THROUGH COLLEAGUES

“By supporting my wish to move and thereby enabling me to follow my husband, our Group showed that mobility was already high on the agenda back in 2009.” — Xiling Shen

Xiling, a professional with a Master´s degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), tells us how she was able to transition from our office in Shanghai, China to our office in Singapore in 2009.

The flexibility to be mobile, allowed her to follow her husband, when he moved there to pursue his PhD program. “By supporting my wish to move and thereby enabling me to follow my husband, our Group showed that mobility was already high on the agenda back in 2009.” She adds, “It is very motivating that our Group tries to match employees´ wishes with the requirements of the Group and seeks out possible ways of arranging such matches.” She further comments, “Intra-group mobility provides me with new possibilities to gain knowledge, culturally and professionally alike.”

Meeting new colleagues is especially important to Xiling, as she views it as a way of learning and exchanging new information and knowledge – crucial to enhancing her understanding of complex problems in her field. “New professional relations in another office is the best way of learning new things, which I personally feel that foster my career development within our Group,” she argues.