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Leading the way in sustainability

Yellow heart

16 February 2023

Colleagues are working on sustainability in every Heijmans division. From connecting people to setting up a platform for the reuse of materials to building expertise in circularity: these five colleagues all have a sustainable and yellow heart.

“I go to work smiling every day”

Auke van Nieuwenhuijze (44) feels especially proud when he talks about his work at Heijmans. As procurement manager, his work includes helping to develop and set up a platform for the reuse of building materials.

Auke van Nieuwenhuijze

“A lot is happening in the construction world right now. I deal with the procurement of materials and supplier management, but we also take into account what’s important in the long term. There’s a huge and growing need to improve sustainability and Heijmans is leading the way on this front. The nice thing is that I get to work with lots of smart people, who are always on the look-out for creative solutions. I find that enormously energising.”

“One of the things I’m most proud of is setting up and developing This platform brings together the supply and demand for used building materials and materials for everyone in the construction chain. For example, is includes the reuse of sand, rubble and gravel, in other words the raw materials that are released when we build a motorway or a building. But it also includes materials such as paving, lighting or internal walls. We used to call that demolition. Now it’s called harvesting, because those materials are reused.”

"Even during my first meeting with Heijmans, I had a really good feeling and that has only grown stronger over the past 15 years. I go to work smiling every day and I’m always proud to tell people that I work for Heijmans. If I see something yellow with our logo on the road, it makes me happy. Even my children have that.”

“It really is a treat to work at Heijmans”

Sofie Bogaers (35) is a secretary at the Materiel Management club in Rosmalen. She would like nothing more than to keep working here until her retirement, because she feels right at home. Connecting people - from the workshop and the office - is what she likes doing best.

“At first, I thought Heijmans might be too big for me, because before I’d always worked for smaller companies where there was a real family feeling. But I don’t notice at all that this is such a big company and have that family feeling again. That’s because everyone is so approachable. Everything is done in consultation and everyone gets a chance to come up with ideas or solutions.”

“I work in Rosmalen and I’m right in the midst of all the big equipment. People from the workshop and the office often don’t know each other, but I try to put them in touch and get them to connect. If I see an endless e-mail exchange developing, I say: ‘Just walk with me, because that person is sitting near here.’ Sometimes it’s like consultation hour at my desk, because people often drop by for a chat.”

“What appeals to me at Heijmans is that everyone is more than happy to help each other. In this respect, it doesn’t matter what project you’re on or what region you’re from. We’re due to have a workshop soon, to help us work even more sustainably in the office, too. I’m curious to see what more I can learn, because I already take this into account when I order products. I look at sustainable alternatives, packaging materials and how something is delivered. These may small things, but every little bit helps to make our work even more sustainable.”

Sofie Bogaers

“Heijmans gives me all the freedom I need to contribute and implement new ideas”

Stijn Tolhuijsen (32) is a project developer at the Property Development business unit and in 2022 he and a colleague set up an internal sustainability training programme.

Stijn Tholhuijsen

“I lot of my work at Heijmans takes place at the very start of a project. When we still have to think about what we are going to realise, with whom and in what way. Sometimes that starts on a large meadow where nothing has ever been built; another time it’s at a busy point in the middle of the city. That first part, where I my main task is to be creative, innovative and technical, is what I like most about my job.”

“I am extremely proud to work for Heijmans and find it easy to identify with the sustainable goals we set as a company. Despite Heijmans being a large company, it devotes a lot of attention to individual employees and you get the chance to contribute and implement new ideas. For example, last year I joined a colleague who wanted to set up an internal sustainability training course. And we were given the freedom and the trust to do it together.”

“The training course consists of eight sessions: each month, we cover a different theme: from circularity to social cohesion and we have both internal and external speakers for the sessions. We already have a lot of sustainability know-how in-house, but as a large company the trick is to make sure we share it among ourselves. This approach seems to be catching on; in any case, I’ve already been given a lot of inspiration myself.”

“I used to have to approach the regional teams to offer my help, now I’m flooded with phone calls from them”

Bakir Selliah (35) is a circularity business developer at the Non-residential building business unit and for the past five years has been building expertise in circular construction.

“After studying architecture, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. After trying out a few different things, I did a traineeship at Heijmans and that’s when I came across the field of circularity. I found that really exciting. That was five years ago and circularity was still in its infancy in the construction world. I’m really happy that Heijmans understood just how important is would become and created a position for me. With a small team, I built up our expertise in circularity. That wasn’t always easy, because how do you develop something that clients don’t ask for in tenders?”

"Of course, these days circularity is part of almost every tender and projects use the lead we have built on this front. Right now, I advise tender teams in the service regions and sit at the table with colleagues at Schiphol to drive sustainability and circularity. We also developed the Circular Management & Maintenance proposition, which we deploy in various maintenance tenders. While I used to have to approach the regional teams to offer my help, now I’m flooded with phone calls from them. It makes you feel appreciated and I get a lot of energy from that.”

“My ambition is to leave the world better for the next generation, especially now that I have an eighteen-month-old son. That’s why I want to take sustainability to the next level. Heijmans is a great place for that, because sustainability is high on the agenda here. I have a green heart, with a thick yellow rim around it.”

Bakir Selliah

“It’s never occurred to me to work for another company”

Normally, Zivana Obrenovic (41) is a project manager in the Non-residential building business unit, but for the realisation of 295 apartments in Rotterdam's Parkstad Zuid, she has been ‘loaned out’ to the High-rise residential building team.

Zivana Obrenovic

“I like the fact that we are given the opportunity to get to know other parts of Heijmans in this way. I joined Heijmans immediately after my studies. First as a work planner, later as a project coordinator and for the past three years I’ve been working as a project leader. Thanks to the career opportunities Heijmans offers and the warmth I experience in the company, I have never thought about working elsewhere.”

"Heijmans is a company that believes in training its people. I’ve experienced that with several managers and now that I’m a manager, I want to help others to develop and grow. I myself have benefited enormously from the Heijmans All-round Professional Programme, a training course for young professionals who want to grow into a managerial position. I learned a lot on that course about cooperation, communication and finance, plus it increased my network within the company.”

“I like the fact that Heijmans itself never stops learning and that the company is committed to a more sustainable construction sector. Of course this won’t happen overnight and without a struggle, but we are learning more and more. For example, how to use recyclable materials, how to process waste sustainably and how to use electric transport. Making a construction company completely sustainable is far from easy, but we are on the right track.”