Home » Shelly Verhagen – Contracts and Project Controls Manager

Shelly Verhagen - Contracts and Project Controls Manager

Shelly Verhagen is a passionate engineer, leading the contracts and projects control department at Seaway7. She tells us all about her career journey so far…


Shelly, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself.

I’m 45 years old and a mother of two (9 year old boy and 13 year old teenage girl). I was born and raised in Rotterdam, but also lived for some time in Perth, Australia. For a few years now I live happily in a small town close to Seaway7’s office in the Netherlands. As a good Dutch citizen, I can ride my bicycle to work 😊

As a kid I was always interested in how things were built or assembled, how things work and whether they could be improved or combined. At school I was good at maths and physics, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when I went to study mechanical engineering.

What is your role, and what does it involve?

I lead the contracts and project controls team for our Europe and US Business Unit. Apart from contracts,  my role also involves planning, document control and project support. I manage a very diverse group of people with diverse backgrounds. Next to being there to support the team members in their daily activities and development, I’m also involved in improvement initiatives for all disciplines and positioning the various disciplines in the right way in the projects. I also give hands on support to the projects on the more complex challenges. So a very varied and interesting mix of people management and hardcore contracts and commercial skills.

What brought you to us at Seaway7?

After 14 years in various roles with  another marine contractor working mostly in oil and gas, it was time for me to move on, and I joined Seaway7 nine years ago. Back then, Seaway7 was just starting to become more active in the renewables market, which I found very interesting. Compared to oil and gas, renewables is a totally different ball game; it’s much more complex, challenging and demanding. I’m always up for a challenge, so being in this market brought me plenty of opportunities!

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it? 

That would be when I first started working after completing my studies in mechanical engineering. During my studies, there weren’t many female students, but it never bothered me. My first job was with a company who were not used having females in positions other than secretaries, and that’s exactly how they treated me. At first, I wanted to show desperately that I could do the same as them in engineering or better. But, as I’m quite a down to earth type of person, after some time I understood that this was pointless and that I could better focus on things that would bring me positive energy. That was a quick but thorough learning at the start of my career and I can only say that I still benefit from this experience.

What fulfils you the most at work?

I don’t shy away from huge challenges and a good bit of chaos, and when things start to come together after a lot of hard work, that’s what keeps me going!

In my current role, I have the privilege of supporting, coaching and guiding my team members and setting them up for success. It’s great to see what they can do with just a bit of support and trust!

What makes working at Seaway7 special for you? 

Seaway7 is a very international organisation, with many different nationalities and cultures, but in our company there is also the common ground of the Seaway7 culture! It’s hard to pin down what this exactly means, but what it comes down to for me is that we tackle all challenges with some good team work, regardless what your level of experience or seniority is, we all work together with a real hands on mentality.

If there’s one piece of advice you could give someone to enhance their career here, what would it be? 

Make sure you discuss your goals and ambitions with your line manager, but at the same time also don’t be afraid to jump on any opportunity when it might come along.

 What has surprised you about your own career journey here?

Haha that’s an easy one! I started off as a mechanical engineer in 2000; if you would have told me back then that I would be leading the contracts and project control department, I would likely have found that a good joke. But what I learned is that sometimes others see opportunities for you that you yourself might not consider. I still benefit from my technical background and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to grow into the contracts role and now even leading the team! It’s like my favourite quote from the famous Pippi Longstockings: “I never did it before, so I think I can do it!”

How have your experiences at Seaway7 shaped your future?

With the opportunities I had within Seaway7, I now look at my future career path in a completely different way than example did before I joined Seaway7. I see much more opportunities now to further develop myself!

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