40sEngineerEuropeProfilesThe Netherlands

Karin Sluis, 40s, Civil Engineer

By September 17, 2011 No Comments

What is your name, age, and location?

My name is Karin Sluis, I’m 46 years old and I live and work in Deventer (The Netherlands).

What is your profession?

I am a civil engineer, presently working as director Spatial development and mobility with Witteveen+Bos Consulting engineers.

What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?

I studied civil engineering at the Delft University of Technology and have a Master of Science degree.

What was your first job?

In 1989 I started as young engineer in the Sanitation department of Witteveen+Bos. My job was to make calculations on drainage systems, in the Netherlands as well as abroad. The first month I was very lucky: nobody had time to do some hydraulic calculations for the Sawa river on Kalimantan so I was asked to go there! That is a very nice aspect of the engineering work according to my opinion: it has to be done worldwide!

Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?

Looking back the main inspiration lies within my obsession from childhood on with water: its forces, its opportunities, its beauty. I grew up in a polder near Amsterdam, and wherever I looked I saw water. Water nearly killed my small brother, water gave me joy while rowing or skating, water made me happy because of the plants and animals in and around.

Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?

Probably the water plan to make the city of Dordrecht safer, healthier and more beautiful. We worked in a team there, with an ecologist, an architect and some engineers. Very inspiring, also because our client, the municipality, was very much involved.

Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?

Being a woman is usually a big advantage in the technical field: everybody remembers you. Use it as often as you can!

Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?

The only person who hinders my career is me. Because of the “bad mother” feeling that sometimes pops up: on the schoolyard when I don’t know the names of all the kids out there; when one of our children has a birthday coming up and I discover at the last minute that we are out of balloons; along the football field being surprised to see that my son is captain…

Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?

The former director of Witteveen+Bos has been and still is very inspiring to me: because of his love for the engineering work (how important it is for our health and welfare), his love for our company (how special it is that we are all owners, junior to senior) and for all the love for the people that work here (challenging and caring).

If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?

Keep in touch with the women you met at university, etc.: they are like you and can help you grow to whatever you want to be.

Links:

Witteveen+Bos

Karin’s profile on LinkedIn

Special thanks to Rhiannon Meredith

– Interview by Elena Rossini

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