Gijs and his partner are currently packing up their lives in the Netherlands to move to Sweden. This will be a new chapter that they are very much looking forward to. Who is Gijs then?
I’m a Dutchman who can’t ice skate and for all Swedes I have a hard-to-pronounce name. However, everyone knows my last name and many people think I am related to Olympic gold medalist Nils van der Poel, I am not. But thank you Nils for teaching all Swedes to pronounce my surname, says Gijs and laughs.
Gijs has studied mobility planning in Amsterdam and applied econometrics in Lund. He studied more econometrics, modeling and statistics than he originally intended as he quickly developed a keen interest and it turned out to be something he was good at. During the time in Lund, he also learned Swedish. Gijs is also a sports-interested person who likes to both watch and play rugby.
Last spring I walked across the UK, from Cornwall in the south of England to John O’ Groats in the north of Scotland, to raise money for Street Soccer. It is an organization that works to fight poverty and strengthen communities through football. It was a fantastic experience and I got to meet a lot of interesting people on my hike. I also wrote a book about it, it has not been published yet, but I hope it will be, says Gijs.
The career began in 2013 as a project manager at a company called Over Morgen that works with sustainable mobility. On the second day at work, Gijs was asked by the CEO if he could imagine project managing an assignment for The Hague municipality. They would answer how many electric cars there will be in 2020 and how many charging stations will be needed. Gijs took on the challenge and this got completely out of hand. The model they worked on for the municipality of The Hague is used by many today and this was the starting point for Gijs’ career.
In the Netherlands, Gijs has had his own consulting company in recent years, where he worked on behalf of municipalities, energy companies and charging station operators. At the beginning of a project, it is important for Gijs to understand what the customer’s needs are, what the question is behind their question and why the work should be carried out in the first place. In the Netherlands, the majority park their cars on the streets as only about 30% have private parking spots. The municipalities want more electric cars, but if you buy an electric car it will be difficult to charge it as you usually don’t have your own parking space where you live. The municipalities must therefore solve this problem. They need to know where the people who drive electric cars live, where they work, if they have private parking, what type of charging they need (regular or fast), etc. Using the data that is available, Gijs can create a model that shows how many charging stations need to be erected and where they should be placed. Gijs has carried out this work for around 200 municipalities in the Netherlands.
For me, it’s often about helping my clients understand what the data can do for them, what questions we can answer by using the data in the right way. I have worked for municipalities but also for energy companies and charge point operators. In the future, there will be a need for more charging stations and then more energy will be needed in the electricity grid. So I have developed a model where the electricity companies can see how much energy will be needed for each hour to meet the future need, says Gijs.
In Gijs’ work, data has a decisive role. He believes that quantitative analysis methods can provide security and safety in projects. He sees backing up qualitative conclusions with analyzes based on various forms of data as a way to strengthen his arguments and be able to deliver an accurate result. There is an incredible amount happening in the mobility and energy industry, and to keep up, Gijs often works with market analyses.
In the energy industry, we are working today to solve the questions around flexibility and storage. We use different amounts of energy throughout the day. It is in the evening when we get home from work that we cook, charge the electric car, etc. With the transition to more sustainable energy, we are faced with the challenge that we cannot control when the sun will shine and when the wind will blow. Today, it is possible to store energy, but we have not yet found the perfect solution for it. How do we store it throughout the day and even over different seasons? In the summer, we don’t need nearly as much energy and it is precisely the seasonal storage that is the difficult part, exemplifies Gijs.
Sweden also faces the challenges surrounding the energy problem that exists in the Netherlands. Gijs brings all his knowledge and experience with him to Sweden and looks forward to working for Swedish clients. He is also looking forward to learning the Swedish work culture and making new interesting contacts within the industry. Gijs’ competence in electrified mobility complements Urbanista Stad, which with its three business areas in Mobility, Planning & Property Development and Analytics is ready to work for the transition towards fossil-free vehicle fleets and increased electrification.
The move and the new company feel incredibly exciting. I look forward to learning a lot from the Swedes and being able to pass on my knowledge. I also hope to be able to teach Sweden a little about cycling culture, there is a lot to learn from the Netherlands there. Then it will also be nice to have a little more fika, says Gijs, smiling.