OnTheJob interview – John van Zuylen

1.What’s your name and where have you been living so far?

My name is John van Zuylen and I am born and raised in Belgium. Afterwards I lived and studied in the US  (Alabama and Chicago), Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

2.Where do you currently work (company, short description of your job & location)?

I work at Allen & York, a recruitment agency specialized in the energy and environment industry. We have 3 offices and I am based in Dubai. Here I am responsible for our clients in the power industry, covering both conventional and solar energy. Furthermore, I am also the Director of the local chapter of the Young Professionals in Energy, a non-profit organization providing a platform for young and experienced energy pros to meet and exchange knowledge.

3.What are you working on this and next week?

Demand for solar professionals has become dominant in my work over the last 5 months.

Several governments have made big announcements about their desire to develop more solar in their countries, and companies are now getting their teams ready for future projects.

Regarding this week, I am looking for a European engineer specialized in designing large scale photovoltaic plants for a well established Middle Eastern developer. I am also looking for a BD manager for a company manufacturing solar panels that is looking to open an office in the UAE.

4.What is the biggest challenge in your job or working field ?

Managing supply and demand is definitely the biggest challenge in my job. A lot of our clients requests are for jobs based in Saudi Arabia. The country has many ongoing mega power projects but can be quite challenging in terms of living conditions. Hence many candidates are not interested to live in Saudi Arabia. They do however prefer to be based in Dubai or Abu Dhabi (the 2 main cities of the United Arab Emirates), but the country has a very limited number of new projects, hence not many work opportunities.

5.What do you like most of working in the energy field?

Electricity is something that everyone uses on a daily basis. It is fundamental to our society and many consider switching on the lights or the micro-wave as something trivial. But the entire electric eco-system is complex to create and maintain, and not everyone is aware of that. Fortunately, there are people who do work in the industry and do so with passion.

 6.     With whom (in or outside the energy field) would you like to have dinner? Where would you eat and about what would you like to talk?

My great-grand-father whom I have never known. He was in charge of major factories and employed several thousands people during the most difficult times Europe has known. I would ask him what drove him to keep strong and provide some comfort to people while he could have left to a quieter country.

7.The website www.globalenergyprofs.com is a platform for the global community of energy professionals. What do you expect from such a platform?

People working in energy are generally passionate about the industry. We are currently experiencing major changes in the industry driven by innovation and geo-political challenges. I see many opportunities in this and I look forward to connecting with other professionals, young or more experienced, who also wish to make a difference in this industry.

J. Van Zuylen,  Allen & York in Dubai, a recruitment agency specialized in the energy and environment industry.