Skip to main content
News 27|06|2023

Talent Development as a common thread

  • Maritime & Offshore

Want more information?

The seed of was sown in the bankruptcy of the Boelwerf shipyard in Temse. Etienne Van Goeye didn't want to lose any talent, so he founded 27 years later, discovering and developing talent is still one of the core values of our company. Join us to learn how and why.

“When the shipyard in Temse went bankrupt, there were many skilled technical professionals available in the job market”, says Wouter Van Goeye, director at “Since many of them had formed a close-knit team for years, this presented commercial opportunities. Etienne, father of my brother Nicolas and myself, seized the chance and launched Several former employees of the Boelwerf found a job there. However, the real breakthrough came with the establishment of Delta Marine Engineering in 1998, a few years later. The close collaboration with the Koninklijke Schelde Groep (later Damen Schelde) provided an additional boost to our workforce. Within a year, we gained 35 employees. And in 1997, IHC became a shareholder of So, from 1998 onwards, the two largest Dutch shipyards were shareholders within the group. From then on, it has been a constant upward trajectory."

You didn't want to lose any talent, but the first employees of weren't really young talents...

Nicolas Van Goeye: That's correct. As a company, we have undergone a significant transformation in that regard. Initially, we started with employees who had been in their jobs for twenty years and knew their profession inside out. Today, we have many young people with us, often recent graduates. They still need to grow in their roles. But despite the apparent major transition, the common thread has always been our desire to give talent opportunities.

Niko Fierens: Our goal is not to let talent slip away. Engineers are in high demand in the job market. We want to ensure that talented young engineers consider a job at They can join us as employees, freelancers, or even entrepreneurs. Over the years, we have made great strides in participatory entrepreneurship. Pharos Engineering (formerly an engineering firm in Vlissingen), Polaris (former name of the department in Komarno, Slovakia), and Maridea (department in Delft focused on offshore innovation) are perfect examples of companies we established with strong individuals who were or became available at that time.

Wouter Van Goeye: It was only in 2007 that we directly hired our first engineer fresh out of school at our engineering office Maritime & Offshore. After that, we gradually welcomed more experienced professionals. This allowed us to take on projects with more risk. However, market conditions also influenced our way of working: large companies like Damen pushed us in the direction of basic and concept design to secure our position in the market. In this way, it also worked in reverse: by participating in larger, complex projects, we systematically needed higher profiles.

So, you have evolved from working with experienced people to training young potentials?

Niko Fierens: Indeed, although we still hire experienced employees today as well. However, additional layers of functions have been added. Initially, the focus was mainly on the technical content of jobs, then an international dimension was added, followed by project management. Those who work at have the opportunity to grow, and usually they have to choose between technology or project management.

Nicolas Van Goeye: This often creates a tension for newly graduated engineers. You enter a company, but you still lack practical experience. You mainly build that through technical assignments. Do you have ambitions as a project manager? Then, in addition to your technical skills, you also need a lot of soft skills. Usually, it takes some time to grow into the role of a project manager.

Wouter Van Goeye: But time alone is not enough, of course. Those who have ambition must also be patient and receive good guidance. Our HR Business Partners take care of that: they support managers in leading a team. We see that their contribution is highly appreciated.

In what other ways do you help talents to grow?

Niko Fierens: Training is an important pillar within our HR policy. With MULTI/Launch, we offer young engineers in their first years with us a training program mainly focused on soft skills. And those who have at least seven years of experience at can enroll in MULTI/Launch², a follow-up training, so to speak. Finally, our people also attend a lot of open training programs.

Niko Fierens: Specifically for the training of maritime engineers, we have established the MULTI Maritime Academy. There, we bring together employees, clients, and external specialists in a specific domain to learn from each other.

Nicolas Van Goeye: In addition, we have always been a pioneer in terms of personal growth for our employees. We often talk about ‘the head and the heart’ of people. Both are important for being happy in your job. We measure employee satisfaction annually, and to our delight, it increases year after year. For example, last year it was found that 86.9% of our employees would recommend as an employer to friends.

Niko Fierens: Finally, we also strive to differentiate ourselves with connecting communication and our community activities, which create and stimulate a learning network around our core competencies.

What are your expectations for the coming years?

Wouter Van Goeye: I believe that training will become even more important. We see that companies in various sectors are increasingly focusing on internal training programs. Due to the labor market's tightness, this will only be strengthened.

Niko Fierens: I am convinced that in the future, employees will choose companies based on how well they feel in them. The salary package is important but no longer the sole determining factor. That is why we want to do everything at to enable our employees to further develop themselves...

Nicolas Van Goeye: ...and to be happy. Because only in that way can we keep our people with us. Satisfied employees also contribute to satisfied customers, and in turn, satisfied shareholders.

Personal Testimony

Jan Dieryckx, CEO at Fraeye & Partners

“On May 1, 2012, I took my first steps at as a project manager at AG Real Estate within the project Scholen van Morgen (Schools of Tomorrow). Before that, I had already worked at an engineering firm and an architect's office. At, I quickly got the opportunity to participate in the MULTI/Launch² program. It not only boosted my self-confidence but also helped me further develop myself. Topics such as making an impact, self-awareness, and leadership were extensively covered. Subsequently, I also had personal coaching sessions with Bieke Van Gool, which touched upon how I wanted to further develop myself professionally in the future. also organized numerous additional training programs, as well as enjoyable informal events. All of this certainly contributed to my ambition to lead a team in the future.

At one point, I expressed this ambition to my account manager and HR Business Partner at We had an open conversation about it, and some time later, Nicolas Van Goeye proposed that I join Fraeye & Partners. I am still very grateful to the people at for giving me this opportunity. Because even within Fraeye & Partners, I have been able to take steps forward. For instance, I completed a highly interesting Vlerick program and have been the CEO since January 2022. We have strong growth ambitions, and if we achieve them, undoubtedly new challenges will arise. That's what makes it always exciting.”

Similar news