Interview with Thomas (24), project manager in the Luxembourg regional unit
In October 2017, Thomas started his professional training with EQOS Energie. During his three-year extra-occupational apprenticeship, he commuted between his office and engineering school. At the conclusion of his professional training, he was hired permanently by the company and was offered a contract as project manager.
What prompted you to want to become a project manager?
For me, the profession of project manager consists of three distinct components: organisational, technical and business disciplines. It is precisely this combination that makes the whole thing so exciting for me. Each day, I have lots to clarify with a great variety of business contacts: with suppliers, customers and our own project teams. Then there is the technical aspect during which I have to make sure, working together with the team, that the project is successful not only technically but financially as well. And, finally, there is the business side of my job. This includes negotiating with subcontractors and suppliers in addition to expanding our customer portfolio, which is what made this profession most interesting to me during my training years. I am sure that my decision to become a project manager was the best choice I could make, and this decision will open many doors for me for the rest of my career.
You have already mentioned many subject areas that were also a focus of your training. Despite that, was there anything during your apprenticeship that surprised you?
When I started as an apprentice I assumed that I would be facing many expected things as well as surprises, but that is what makes the training really good. The quality of a project manager reveals itself in how confidently he handles difficulties and deals with unexpected situations in order to find the corresponding best solutions. However, what I had to get used to during my first project at the start of my apprenticeship was the fact that not only was I allowed to but had to manage such a great budget. After all, we are working with large amounts of money. But it was the customer phone calls that were a special challenge for me in the beginning. If you want to come across as competent, you need to rid yourself of the fear that you might not have sufficient technical knowledge. You need to have confidence in yourself and your work.
I learn something new every day.
After your apprenticeship, you could have changed companies but stayed with EQOS Energie. Why? And why did you choose the area of energy technology?
Back then, when I was gathering information about the apprenticeship, I was particularly interested in renewable energies, i.e. wind power, photovoltaic systems, etc. During my research on the internet, I came across EQOS Energie. I quickly noticed that this company was a perfect match in this respect: With our activities in the energy sector, EQOS Energie is securing the sustainability of energy transmission on a European scale. What’s more, our areas of activity are very diverse. In Luxembourg, we serve a broad portfolio ranging from high and medium to low voltage. I learn something new every day and I am constantly being challenged. Not only that, but I discovered a positive work climate with great colleagues, some of which I can even call friends today. And EQOS Energie has always been there for me: I received support at all times throughout my apprenticeship and beyond during my entry into the professional environment, so that I have had the opportunity for personal and professional development.
How do you see your role in your work environment?
I would say that I am the solution seeker. No two work days are alike. I can never tell each morning whether it will be an easy day or a challenging day and I never know what is coming my way, but, whatever comes, I am responsible for managing the projects well – whether there are difficulties or not. So I have to find pragmatic solutions quickly. I believe it is indispensable for me to be curious and to always strive to get ahead. Creative thinking is particularly important to me in order to find and suggest new ideas and solutions. I am prepared for accepting any challenge and to face novel problems.
Since you are someone who completed his training recently: What advice would you want to give other trainees for the three apprenticeship years?
The most important thing as an apprentice is to show limitless curiosity in your environment. You need to prove how conscientiously you work. This also includes asking questions, even if this might be uncomfortable at times, because this will show that you want to advance. This is also the only way to develop the necessary technical and interpersonal skills that form the basis for target-oriented work.