Annual rings of a tree

People, Careers

3 minute read

Watchman Walter Lodder

"An excellent team spirit is crucial for safety."

”The highlight of my year is the turnaround of our main reactor at the Neste Rotterdam refinery. I am responsible for the catalyst changeout, which is a great job. It’s very intensive, and I get to collaborate with many stakeholders, from colleagues working at technical offices in Finland to executors in the field. I can use all the expertise I have acquired from different positions during my ten years at Neste. 

man in a t-shirt

Safety is very close to my heart. In my current role, I’m responsible for supervising maintenance activities at the Rotterdam refinery. Maintenance includes around 25 people working on mechanical equipment, scaffolding, insulation, painting, and cleaning. Together with work preparation, planning, and execution, we are responsible for a safe execution of works. If the job isn’t prepared with the right attention it can have a direct impact on the job itself. Whether we are talking about process safety or personal safety, both are our top priority!

The most important goal for me is that people in our team go home in good condition. The most important goal for them is to execute each task safely. I tell the team to have a defensive mindset. If they are unsure of how to handle a situation safely, they should rather take a step back and ask than take a step forward too fast. Wrong assumptions and subsequent actions can have far-reaching consequences to people’s lives.

I have worked in many roles since we started the refinery from scratch in 2009. I have managed safety drills, developed safety procedures, and even worked in operations. In my current supervising role, I especially enjoy the new aspect of leadership and communication. In the near future I hope to show other skills and develop leadership in possible upcoming positions. Neste certainly offers opportunities to develop yourself. That’s one way we make the company stronger.

We have an excellent team spirit on the work floor, which is also crucial for safety. You can’t have stressed-out people at a refinery. Caring is a core value for Neste, and we care about each other and the job. A good atmosphere enables effective collaboration in tough, sudden situations. 

We recently received a very urgent and potentially hazardous task with quite little time to prepare. It required rapid, thought-out action. I initiated a kickoff meeting with all the stakeholders and told them exactly what the job was. We got together as a team, defined the right steps together, and delivered. It was a great success. Afterward, I emailed everyone thank you notes for their willingness to participate and learn together. I felt extremely proud of everyone. 

Even though rushy situations are in my comfort zone, I really appreciate how everyone at Neste works to minimize them by focusing on good preparation and organization. Of course, you can’t eliminate all urgent tasks at a refinery. And when they come, we handle them very well. I think it’s also because we have what’s called the Rotterdam mentality: We don’t complain, we just roll up our sleeves and work.”