BLOG – Olaf’s culture shock in the USA

Quest is an international transfer program which connects Arcadians from all over the world. Quest is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation. Every week we are highlighting one of the stories our employees who went on an exchange. In this blogpost we cover the Quest story of Olaf van Duin who traveled from Doha, Qatar to Atlanta and Chicago, USA.

Why did I apply for a Quest

I have been working in Qatar for two and a half year and was looking for a new challenge, somewhere within the Arcadis world. I was tipped to go on a Quest to Atlanta by my colleagues Wassim Selman and Jasper de Lange and I am very glad I did. Therefore I would like to thank them and I would like to mention the great support I got from the Chicago team: Phoebe Peterson and Craig Halvorson in particular.

“Going on this Quest widened my perception of the Arcadis I belong to!”

Highlight of my quest experience

The meetings with clients were definitely the highlights of my Quest. I have been taken to a meeting in an Atlanta Traffic Management Centre, where I had never expected to find a certain model (Client-PMC-GEC-Contractor), which I thought was an outdated Middle East phenomenon. Apparently it is not.

I was great to experience how our staff is appreciated by the client because of their expertise and dedication, this is the complete opposite from the meetings we have in Doha.

In Chicago I have visited a Metro remodeled station. Very impressive to see how a better (Arcadis) design creates a completely different perception of travelling by Metro.

My Quest in one word

“Becoming an Arcadian”

I was employed by Hyder Consulting in 2015. About the same time, Hyder was taken over by Arcadis. When I was an Arcadis client with “Rijkswaterstaat” in Holland, I had some prejudices regarding this consultancy firm. Yet I had to experience Arcadis from the inside to understand the Arcadis values. Through the job I also experienced the GECs in Manilla, Bangalore and others, which started to make me feel part of Arcadis Middle East. But that did not touch my feelings so much. The Quest introduced me to a larger Arcadis world. The experience how colleagues carried out different jobs on the other side of the world, with the same attitude, values and approach, made me understand what it really meant to be an Arcadian. The offices and people in the USA made me want to be and feel like an Arcadian. This trip also showed me how we can mobilize a bunch of worldwide expertise for our clients.

Learnings and experiences

Work related learnings:
• The US attitude and approach is similar to Qatar.
• We have very different clients. In Qatar we get little appreciation and there is a “blame and bashing” culture. The appreciative and supportive atmosphere I received from the clients in Atlanta and Chicago was a (very positive) culture shock to me.
• With a rather small infrastructure team Arcadis Atlanta is taking on a lot of projects and is very capable of satisfying clients.
• The Chicago office rebuilt a Metro station which really upgraded the Metro experience for commuters. Also the remodeling brought the modalities train, bike, walking, bus and car together.
• We do impressive work in US, we make better money and have great growth potential.
• There is a bunch of knowledge we should be sharing more often. This will benefit both Arcadis and our clients and I am sure every participant will enjoy doing so.

Other Experiences:
• From what I ate, the American taste is to be defined as: big portions, not spicy, not salty, but sweet and greasy, fast served with a smile on disposable dishes.
• US drivers are very polite and relaxed, compared to Doha drivers.
• Nice to see how Arcadis can be recognized from the office lay out which I saw in Atlanta and earlier in Manilla.

The international transfer program Quest, which connects Arcadians from all over the world, is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation.

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