Almost a year ago Jan-Sytse Sijperda, Area Manager Eastern Europe, traded the headquarters in Delfzijl for the branch office in Saint-Petersburg. There he leads a team involved in the crewing of the Russian and Ukrainian seafarers of the Wagenborg fleet. What is it like to make such a change?
“After finishing my two-year in-house traineeship programme, which was mostly spent abroad, the most obvious choice was to stay abroad. While rounding off the setup of the Wagenborg South East Asia office in Manila the opportunity to go to Russia was offered to me. Easy choice, let’s do it!
"Working abroad in Saint-Petersburg is challenging. However, Saint-Petersburg does not mean the real Russia. It’s a unique city, which is greatly influenced by the West. At the same time traditional Russian values form a distinctive atmosphere. So I must say that living in Saint-Petersburg as an expat is a unique experience.
“On a daily basis, topics such as language, culture, rules and regulations challenge my ability to adapt. As well as this, my new social life here is limited by wallet size and language differences. Nevertheless, working together with a group of dedicated Wagenborg staff who keep focusing on the relationship between our Russian and Ukrainian seafarers and Wagenborg has made my stay very pleasant.
“The Wagenborg Saint-Petersburg office was established in 2011 by the crewing department. My first and main task is to coordinate the day-to-day crewing operations for all Russian and Ukrainian seafarers and secondly, to investigate all other sorts of business in and around Saint-Petersburg. Currently, one third of the Wagenborg fleet is manned by East European seafarers. In order to build a bridge between Wagenborg and our seafarers, a bridge between the Saint-Petersburg office and our headquarters was needed. That is one of the reasons why I’m here, to strengthen this relationship.
“It is not likely that the presence of Wagenborg in Russia will disappear any time soon. Therefore, the office in Saint-Petersburg can make a valuable contribution to the group in terms of crewing activities and business development. “Where will the Saint-Petersburg office stand in five years? This all depends on future development. However, if you ask me, within five years the Saint- Petersburg office will be more than just a crewing office.”
“Within 5 years the Saint Petersburg office will be more than just a crewing office.”