As our first group of EJWP participants (EJWP1) near the finish of their 2-year journey in development, projects and networking, we would like to share some of their reflections on what they have experienced and built with their EJWP colleagues. This milestone means that our programme is now 2 years old! Through joint projects and events networking, this group of young water professionals from around Europe have established working relationships among themselves and in the European water sector to support their career growth now and in the future.
Our diverse group of EJWP1 participants come from different parts of the water sector, and from different places in Europe: Hedviga from Slovakia, Ioana from Romania, Ingrid from Belgium, Loic from France, Martha from Norway, Mathilde from the Netherlands, Rosa from Italy, and Rhys from Wales. And from this group, we’ve had the opportunity to engage in project and visits with organizations (virtually or in person) in which our participants work: AQUA Alarm (Norway); De Watergroep (Belguim); Delfland (the Netherlands); Dwr Cymru, Welsh Water (Wales); Isle Utilities (Italy); the University of Kosice (Slovakia), Water Footprint Implementation (the Netherlands) and Water Europe (Based in Brussels). We have already seen first-hand how working with organizations in different parts of the European water sector can build synergies to face a challenging water future!
EJWP1 kicked off in June 2019 during Water Innovation Europe, and will finish in Norway this October. This first EJWP group experienced the transition from our “normal” lives and work operations before the Covid pandemic, to more digital interaction and cooperation after lockdowns and social distancing changed the world. We are currently aiming for a live event for the graduation ceremony.
We have all completed over the two years, eight training weeks in locations including Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, and of course online. We’ve worked and learnt together on projects presented by our EJWP clients, practiced personal development and leadership, joined masterclasses on water topics, and interacted with experts at Water Europe events. We have also welcomed new EJWP ambassadors to enrich our journey: Richard Elelman, Veronica Manfredi, and Marielle Van Der Zouwen.
Ingrid Keupers, from De Watergroep in Belgium, said at the start of the journey: “This mix will allow us to learn a lot from each other throughout the course, since everyone brings their own background and perspective. The next two years we see each other four times a year for a week for intensive training. We work together as a team on projects for each participating company in order to learn from each other, in both content and project management.”
And now after two years, Rhys Hellin with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water emphasized the value of interaction with different types of organizations in the value chain of the water sector: “Meeting the other participants in the project is one of the most valuable things about EJWP. We’re in touch a couple of days every week and meet every quarter, sharing perspectives on relevant work for water companies. This has been an eye-opener…I have learned a lot through seeing how others operate.”
Rosa Esposito with Isle Utilities in Italy also said, “We know more about the countries and organizations, and the young professionals working there. EJWP can be helpful as well for organizations that we come from, through sharing knowledge and better mechanisms for collaboration in the sector. Broader European exposure includes being aware of emerging topics, especially in a technical position dealing with developments.”
And on aspects of growth and collaboration during the journey, Ioana Dobrescu from Romania (based in the Netherlands) said, “EJWP is especially valuable in that it offers a safe environment to discuss and jointly analyse issues that we’re facing as professionals, both in terms of personal development and sector-specific challenges. For example, some of us may find it difficult to network at events or communicate efficiently with colleagues. This is addressed in personal development trainings, sometimes through role-play, which makes it both a safe and fun method of overcoming fears and developing soft skills.
As the October graduation nears, we will be sharing more on what EJWP1 participants have accomplished in development, and how it has impacted their careers, their water-sector organizations and even Europe’s water sector future. We are proud of their journey and what we have all accomplished together in this past two years. Keep a watch on the EJWP newsletter and our social media for much more!