To work as a Service Engineer, you need courage

Interview | August 11, 2023

Marijke De Bruyne joined ABB in 2016. She is currently Service Coordinator for ABB Measurement & Analytics for the Benelux region. We asked her about her career in engineering. 

Growing up, Marijke De Bruyne discovered that she was more of a ‘practical’ than a ‘theoretical’ person, and consequently chose an education that reflected her inclination. She obtained a Professional Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Environmental Technology, an education that allowed her to develop her interest in the environment, science and technology.

“I took courses in Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology, Environmental Technology and Law, and even some Mechanics and Physics. It was no doubt an interesting education,” says Marijke. 

Her very first job was as a technician doing emissions measurements for an environmental laboratory.

“It was a challenging job, physically hard work. We were working in teams of two to three people and all my technician colleagues were men. At the time, very few women followed this career path. It was considered ‘adventurous’ and there were almost no role models.”
But Marijke liked the job because it gave her the freedom to be on the road and not behind a desk. 

“Every day a new customer, every day a new environment, and I worked outside most of the time in all kinds of weather.” 


A career as part of ABB’s Service team

Marijke joined ABB seven years ago as a Service Engineer. At ABB, the Service teams support the lifecycle of various products - from installation to maintenance, repair and upgrades.  

“Most of the time I was working at customer sites in male-dominated environments. I had to find my way in, but it all went well. I found it funny that on seeing a woman working in the field, men often opened doors for me and helped me carry equipment. I always wondered if my male colleagues got the same treatment.”

Joking aside, Marijke says that as a Service Engineer, you need courage. 

“Most of the time you are the only specialist on site and the customer is looking at you to solve their problem, preferably as soon as possible. But of course, you don’t know everything from day one. Luckily, I found that at ABB you get a lot of opportunities to develop your skills and you are very well supported by your colleagues.”

Marijke spent five years working as a Service Engineer, an experience that helps her tremendously in her present role as Service Coordinator. 

Today, she gets the most satisfaction when her team is able to help customers the best way they can. 

“We have a team of skilled Service Engineers who take a lot of pride in their job and do everything they can to help out customers and each other. At ABB, you are never on your own, your colleagues are always behind you to help. I really believe that collaboration, one of ABB’s values, is our strength as a team.”

Although Marijke doesn’t see herself as a role model or mentor, she always tries to be supportive and a point of contact for her colleagues and new Service Engineers who still have to find their way around customer sites and within ABB.  

“Every day, we have different challenges, every day is a new adventure, work never gets boring at ABB. That’s part of being in service, the work never ends.”


Achieving a work-life balance

Marijke’s job as a Service Engineer required a lot of flexibility. 

“Sometimes I was working late and was often on call-out duty. I thought that this kind of schedule would be very difficult to combine with caring for a child.”

Once she decided to become a mother, she knew that the child would come first. 

“I didn’t want to have the stress of being called out in the middle of the night to a customer site or not being on time to pick up my child from daycare. As a Service Engineer, I believe it would have been difficult to combine work and personal life.”

Fortunately, Marijke was able to start in a new role at ABB, as Service Coordinator. 

“Today, I’m able to work from home three days a week, so I have more time for my child and myself in the morning and evening. Last year, ABB Belgium implemented measures to improve work-life balance, including a new regulation for maternity and birth leave for partners which goes further than the legal requirements.”  

As a teenager, Marijke loved jigsaw puzzles and could put together a 1000-piece puzzle in one evening. Once, she even put together a puzzle of 9000 pieces. Today, the little time she gets to herself is spent outdoors, hiking or cycling. 

“Nature inspires me. The sounds, the smells… I enjoy going back to basics, away from the comforts of modern life. I just pack a backpack, a tent and some food and leave everything behind. It’s like meditation. Afterwards, I’m totally charged with new energy for the hectic work life of a Service Coordinator and a mom.”


Advice on pursuing a career in STEM

Although the STEM field is still male-dominated, Marijke believes that women and girls should follow their hears. 

“Follow your heart and solicit for the job you like to do. Engineering may still be a male-dominated environment, but it’s such an interesting field to work in, with lots of job opportunities.”

In addition, companies such as ABB support and encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

“In ABB Measurement & Analytics Benelux, we have a very diverse team with people of different ethnic backgrounds. I'm a typical Belgian, and it’s very inspiring to talk with my colleagues about their way of life. I feel that at ABB you are valued for who you are as a person and employee.”


Attracting and retaining women in the engineering field

To attract and retain more women in the engineering field, Marijke says that employers need to consider the career path of their employees and to “think along” with them.

“Employers need to bear in mind that many women at a certain point in their life will want to start a family, so a good work-life balance is crucial to retain women in the field. I believe that counts for everyone, including men. When you attract motivated young people who have built up a lot of experience, you don’t want to lose them when they want to start a family. It would be such a waste of knowledge and ambition.”

About Marijke De Bruyne 

Marijke De Bruyne joined ABB in Belgium in 2016. She is currently Service Coordinator for ABB Measurement & Analytics for the Benelux region.  

Years at ABB: 7 years

Superpower: A fast learner who is eager to streamline administrative processes 

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