From Suriname to The Netherlands – a journey of passion and impact
”I have lots of freedom, but I still feel safe, like being under the wings of a big bird.”
That’s how Jina Bhagwandas describes the culture and leadership at Sweco. That combination of freedom to pursue her passions under the guidance of supportive managers and colleagues is why she plans on a long career with the Dutch subsidiary of Sweco.
Born and raised in Suriname, in the North-Eastern part of South America, Jina joined Sweco in 2018. She is a renewable energy consultant, focusing on finding ways to heat homes with renewable energy instead of natural gas. She recently completed Sweco’s management trainee program where she worked closely with Sweco Netherlands’’ CEO Eugene Grüter. She joined that program to investigate whether that the management track was the right way forward for her.
“I discovered that my heart is in energy transition. I want to build my influence there and I want to make a real difference in that area,” Jina said.
High ambitions collide with educational limitations
Jina’s journey toward Sweco started in her Suriname hometown, Paramaribo. Born to a highly educated and independent mother who worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jina learned early on to focus hard on education. But in a country with only one university, Jina’s options soon became limited. Being that she was particularly good in math and physics, she decided to study Mechanical Engineering at the Suriname University. Her internship at the national oil company of Suriname became a turning point in her life. From that moment she knew what her purpose was on this Earth.
“I became worried about the damage that the oil industry did to the environment and decided I’d rather contribute to inventions that protect our world,” Jina said.
New goals lead to new horizons
She decided to do a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Thermal Engineering. Since Suriname is a former colony of The Netherlands and Jina has a Dutch passport, the choice fell on a high qualified technical University in the Netherlands, University of Twente.
She graduated in 2016 and started her career in renewable energy at a national grid company. After about three years, Jina started eyeing a future career as a consultant.
“I wanted to see more perspectives and have an impact on a broader spectrum. You get that when you work with several clients at the same time,” Jina said.
Jina “clicks” with Sweco
She contacted her current manager and described it as they “clicked” from that very first phone call in 2018. That “click” was the beginning of her career at Sweco. She describes the working environment as intense, with lots of hard work, but never loosing focus on the human side.
“The standards are high, but management supports development within the areas where the employee’s passions and ambitions lie. That is good for both Sweco and the people that work here.”