Excellent engineering: working abroad

Pouya Mahjoubi (30 yrs.) and Francesco Lucca (34 yrs.) have been working through BuildingCareers as bearing engineers at JTEKT in Almere for a year. JTEKT is a specialist in steering systems, driveline components, bearings and machine tools. It is a Japanese company where many different nationalities work together successfully. We asked Pouya and Francesco about their experience with BuildingCareers, their work as bearing engineers and life as expats in the Netherlands. We also look back with their manager Lukas Nieuwland on the recruitment process and onboarding of two engineers from abroad.

Lukas Nieuwland, manager of Industrial Bearing design: ’20 years ago, I ended up at JTEKT myself through BuildingCareers, so when I was looking for two engineers, the first thing I thought of was them. I found the collaboration with the recruiter very smooth. She had a good idea of what I was looking for and came up with good profiles. What I found very insightful was the labor market analysis for bearing engineers that I received. With that, it quickly became clear that supply in the Netherlands was quite scarce. Abroad, the supply of suitable professionals was much greater. Since we already have many different nationalities working in the company, I was immediately open to looking outside the Netherlands.

Valuable addition
The choice finally fell on Pouya and Francesco. Originally from Tehran, Pouya studied and lived in Rome for nearly three years during his master’s program, so he already had some experience abroad. Francesco was born and raised in Italy and for him this would be his first time as an expat. After the initial selection interviews by BuildingCareers, we spoke to Pouya and Francesco online through Teams. For the final interview, both did come to the Netherlands to meet live and see where they would end up. You don’t just move to another country. Finding housing, even in Almere, was very difficult. They, with support from us (JTEKT), eventually took care of that themselves. They are really a valuable addition to the team for me with their knowledge and experience. They have since been given permanent contracts. Should I seek expansion for the team in the future I will definitely contact BuildingCareers again.

Making a (temporary) living in another country brings you quite a few challenges

Smooth application process
Pouya Mahjoubi, bearing engineer: “My wife and I are originally from Iran. I have always felt the need to experience what it is like to live and work in another country. After some research, I decided to study Mechanical Engineering at the Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza” in Rome. That prepared me well to make this move to the Netherlands years later. Making a (temporary) living in another country brings you quite a few challenges. In Rome, especially for the first few months, I was very homesick, and as a student it was difficult to make ends meet. I had to be very conscious of my money. And I didn’t speak Italian yet, which also made it extra difficult. Unlike in the Netherlands, many Italians do not speak English, so if you want to integrate, mastering the language is very important. I was open to expanding my experience as a mechanical engineer both in Italy and in another country. When the recruiter from BuildingCareers approached me with this great position as a bearing engineer, I only started thinking seriously about the Netherlands. I had a total of four interviews before everything was finalized. The whole application process was very clear and smooth. I experienced good support and felt very welcome. Finding housing for my wife and I was difficult, but it worked out.

International cooperation
I enjoy my work very much. It is technically challenging and especially contacting and advising large international clients is something that has always been on my wish list. There is much less international cooperation in Iran, so this was a unique opportunity for me. I find working with colleagues from different countries very enjoyable and educational. In projects or technical challenges you often have a different approach or vision anyway, and I have found that you can really strengthen each other this way. My ambition is to eventually advance to the role of manager. What did disappoint me in the Netherlands was the weather. I knew it would be less beautiful than in Italy, but I just thought it would be a bit more cloudy. That turned out to be quite different, haha. What I really like about the Netherlands is that people are very open about what they think and feel and almost everyone speaks English. It is nice to be able to make yourself understood in a new country. In the meantime, I have also started taking Dutch lessons, because that helps best with integration anyway.

Tobias van Sabben
Tobias van Sabben

I am very happy with my choice, the past year and the growth I have gone through

Not one second of regret
Francesco Lucca, bearing engineer: “Like Pouya, I also had the desire to gain experience abroad. It’s something outside my comfort zone, but that’s where you grow the fastest and also where I personally feel more alive. I was already busy applying for positions within Europe when I was approached for this role in the Netherlands. I found the application process and coming to the Netherlands very exciting, but I was well supported and I don’t regret a second. I started at JTEKT as a bearing engineer for the steel market, but after a while I realized that the position was more focused on bearing failure analysis and engineering calculation. It is an interesting job, but I wanted to further develop my knowledge in the field of drive systems, having worked for many years as a mechanical engineer in the field of geared motors. I then met with my manager and Lukas and was then given the opportunity to join the team at Pouya. This is more focused on the agricultural and general industrial sectors. Now I am completely in place and, like Pouya, find it enriching to work with different nationalities. I am therefore very happy with my choice, the past year and the growth I have experienced, both professionally and personally. Since the working language in the office is English, I take English classes to improve my language skills. My goal is to obtain a C1 level English certification. As soon as I achieve that, I will start learning Dutch.

Public transportation
I don’t have a partner at home, which does make me a little more outgoing to get to know people. In the gym, the contact remains quite functional around the sport, but what has brought me a lot is taking salsa classes in Amsterdam. I love dancing, salsa is joyful, you meet a lot of people and parties are organized regularly. Amsterdam is very internationally oriented so that’s extra nice. Ideally, I would like to live there, but finding housing in Amsterdam is even more difficult than in Almere. Now I am walking to work in 10 minutes, which is also quite a luxury. As an Italian, I actually didn’t speak English very well yet, so I’m taking English classes now. I would like to master that very well first before learning Dutch. What I like best about the Netherlands compared to Rome? Public transportation! You can get almost anywhere here by public transport unlike Rome where you won’t get very far without your own car or scooter 😉’

As you read, the experience of recruiting engineers from abroad is positive

Recruitment partner industry
Robrecht Bakker, partner at BuildingCareers: ‘As you read, the experience with recruiting engineers from abroad is positive. We also see that clients are increasingly open to it. We guide the process of getting people here in a good way. We advise the client in arranging housing for the candidates and, where necessary, we can temporarily act as an employer based on our IND accreditation. And when I read this story I can only be happy and proud about this successful mediation.

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