'Our contribution to the energy transition'

Since 1 February 2019, Jan Schipper has been director of business development at A.Hak. As the son of a road builder who travelled a lot for his work on various infrastructural projects and took his young family with him, he immediately felt a connection to A.Hak. The fact that his graduation subject was district heating adds another dimension to that bond.

When Jan saw the jubilee book ‘50 years A.Hak, it was all recognition. ‘’ My father was Head of Implementation in road construction and involved in the construction of the highway between Hoevelaken and Amsterdam. We led the same nomadic existence as A.Hak’s teams working on large pipeline projects. Until I was six, we lived in a trailer near Hoogland. One morning a truck of sand was brought to our trailer that was left over from the project, so I had the largest sandbox in the village.’ After that the family went to live in the Achterhoek on a more permanent basis, while his father lived ‘in lodgings’ which was and still is a situation that is familiar to a lot of A.Hak staff members.

District heating

After high school Jan went to the University of Twente to study physics. He graduated with a focus on district heating. ‘This resulted in a lot of raised eyebrows. “District heating? Isn't that financially impossible? You'll never find a job in it!” Whereas district heating is now seen as one of the most important alternatives to energy from fossil fuels. So that specialization wasn't that crazy after all.’

Jan has over 25 years of experience in the energy sector. As maintenance planning manager at energy production company UNA and director of Infra Asset Management at Alliander. And on the other side of the table as an international business development consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and managing director of UMS Group Europe, an internationally operating consultancy company for management in the energy and infrastructure sector. At A.Hak, he can combine all facets of his work experience into a great assignment. ‘I will help to redefine the added value of A.Hak in these times of the energy transition.’

The strategy says that A.Hak’s focus is on underground infrastructure. ‘The energy transition means that the market is changing rapidly. Who, for example, orders the construction of new district heating networks? These are not necessarily the well-known network operators, but can also be housing corporations, municipalities or market gardeners. Should we focus on hydrogen infrastructure? Can we grow in Germany, where there is a lot of work to be done on the high-voltage grids? In other parts of the world, gas is seen as an ideal and clean transition product, while here in The Netherlands we abandon natural gas. What does A.Hak want to do with this development?’

The way forward

‘A lot of questions, a lot of possibilities, but not all questions can be answered at the same time. Together with the other business developers, I am going to work out what the best way forward is and what exactly that will mean for the services we offer. How we, together with our partners and clients, want to contribute to solving complex energy issues in this day and age.’

‘And, of course, I want to help increase turnover, speed up the sales process and increase profitability’, Jan laughingly concludes. ‘But that goes without saying for a business developer.’