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Tom Va Vuren giving a speech

United Kingdom / Transport / Divisional director

Tom van Vuren

Tom playing The Miller in The Canterbury Tales
Tom enjoys amateur dramatics
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Tom enjoys amateur dramatics Tom playing The Miller in The Canterbury Tales

Good advice: listen to friends and peers about why they enjoy working for a particular company – they are much more different than you might expect.

Why did you decide to join Mott MacDonald?

A former colleague had moved to Mott MacDonald and was enjoying the work and the company culture. I thought: “If it works for him, it may work for me too" and obviously it did! It taught me how important it is for your career success and job satisfaction to work for an organisation whose values match yours.

Good advice: listen to friends and peers about why they enjoy working for a particular company – they are much more different than you might expect.

What is the best thing about your role?

As a divisional director I am responsible technically and commercially for a number of high profile projects, but I also have a strategic role. I have a lot of freedom pursuing what I feel would be desirable new directions for Mott MacDonald, in which we could do interesting and profitable work. But I also need to ensure that we offer the best technical solutions, building on our world-wide resources. That allows me to network widely with interesting people, and stay ahead of the game, technically. I am lucky to work with the best people in my field internally and externally. It is always satisfying to hear, wherever you go in the world, in how high esteem Mott MacDonald is held.

How would you describe the culture of Mott MacDonald?

We are, compared with other similar companies, very collaborative and supportive, whether this involves colleagues elsewhere in the world, partner organisations or clients. This makes coming to work a real pleasure. Also, in Mott MacDonald we celebrate excellence. So if you are driven by innovation, thinking outside the box, doing that little bit more, you get recognised, and that is a great feeling.

What is the best thing about the country you are from?

Apart from liquorice and salted herring? First, the Dutch are very straightforward, to the point of rudeness. It may feel strange to the more reserved Brits, but it rarely leaves any uncertainty in business decisions. I carefully maintain this trait myself…. Second, the flatness of the Netherlands. A hint for people flying into Amsterdam Airport on a sunny day: admire the geometric patterns and colours of the reclaimed lands – it always makes me feel a bit nostalgic and very proud. Third: the colour orange – who cannot love a football team playing in those colours!

What is one thing you’ve found out about Mott MacDonald from working here that you think everyone should know?

Until you work for Mott MacDonald you don’t appreciate the importance of our employee ownership structure. It gives the company a shared set of values and a common goal, which I have never come across in any of the other companies I have worked for – working for Mott MacDonald is not just a job, you are part of our community. People will go out of their way to support the success of colleagues. There is a very open culture, and absolutely no barriers between locations and grades – in the end, our common goal is the long term success of the organisation and its customers. And it therefore does not matter whether you are a graduate in Mumbai, or the managing director in Croydon.

How many years have you worked for Mott MacDonald, and what has been your proudest achievement to date?

Soon after I joined Mott MacDonald I was asked by our clients in the West Midlands to scope a new transport model. Fifteen years later, this model has been used to support funding of almost £1 billion of infrastructure improvements. I am almost as proud of PRISM, as it is known, as of my other three children!

When you’re not in the office where can you be found?

On the stage! In my spare time I like a bit of amateur dramatics, and pantomime especially. It’s a good way to forget whatever work problem is bugging you at the time, because you need to concentrate 100%. And as your fellow actors depend on you (for example, to remember your lines…) it is a real team effort – not that much different from Mott MacDonald, really!

What has been your favourite Mott MacDonald social event?

The Mott MacDonald Christmas parties are one of the highlights in my annual social diary. It is fantastic to let your hair down with colleagues with whom you have worked hard, sometimes very hard, during the year. Also, to meet their partners who, like yours, will have heard the names and foibles of colleagues during times when projects were perhaps not going so well and now can put a face to the name. And please ignore the photos that appear on facebook the next day!

What is a random fact about you?

Apart from being a director at Mott MacDonald, I am also a Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds. I get great satisfaction from supervising MSc research dissertations – the students get to work on interesting real-life projects and I sometimes manage to get a little research problem solved that had been bugging me for some time.

What would you say is your guilty pleasure?

I just love watching “You’ve Been Framed” on TV with my teenage children. It’s pure slapstick! I guess we share the same silly sense of humour, and we all know that we should really be doing something better with our time. That my wife disapproves makes us feel extra guilty, but not enough to stop doing it...

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