What life’s like for a maritime expat in Rotterdam
Nicholas Serritslev recently joined the Young Maritime Board on behalf of YoungShip Rotterdam. But who is Nicholas, and what persuaded him to pursue a career in the maritime capital of Europe?
After completing his college degree in value chain management, he immediately enrolled in a prestigious graduate trainee programme with DFDS which included several international posts. Ultimately he opted for Rotterdam, where he hopes to stay for the foreseeable future. And he’s keen to emphasise there’s a broader foundation for this feeling than simply attractive career opportunities…
Nicholas Serritslev was born in Denmark but has been an expat practically his entire life, because his father was deployed worldwide for a Danish conglomerate. In fact he actually feels more comfortable living abroad. Apart from feeling like a true cosmopolitan, his multicultural background (Danish/Thai) means he also knows just what’s it like to be part of a minority group. Nicholas: “I felt right at home in Rotterdam. Apart from the city breathing shipping and offering good living conditions, its people have an open mindset and are receptive to different cultures. Rotterdam is genuine, and authentic.”
“You need to be where the action is if you want to start a successful career in shipping. For that, Rotterdam is the place to be.”Nicholas Serritslev
Rotterdam is where it happens
Before landing a job in Rotterdam, the graduate programme took him to Lithuania and Norway. On completion Nicholas was offered a newly-created position in the Rotterdam office. The opportunity to move to Europe’s largest maritime hub was part of his decision to accept. “You need to be where the action is if you want to start a successful career in shipping. For that, Rotterdam is the place to be; this is where it happens.”
He notes that being able to gain hands-on practical experience alongside strategic issues is a major stepping stone for expats. And Nicholas continues: “For example, Denmark has a large shipping industry, but most of the actual handling occurs outside the country. Almost everything goes through Rotterdam at one point or another.” The other aspect of his decision had to do with the sheer size and completeness of the entire cluster; in essence the European maritime capital can be regarded as a ‘one stop shop’ for shipping.
Moving to the maritime capital
A contributing factor in relocating to the port city was having one of his fellow graduate trainees already living there, with a recommendation that he do the same. The move went smoothly under the suitable guidance of his employer. Formalities like registering at the municipality were easily taken care of. What really stood out was the apparent willingness by the Dutch and their system, to make things work. “Somehow I accidently made a mistake in the required paperwork. Instead of my being sent away in a blunt manner, they were receptive and helpful in straightening it out. I was allowed to correct the mistake and come back later the same day.” He believes that having such a practical attitude and a willingness to make things work is typically Dutch.
Just two days after arriving in the Netherlands his friend invited him to a YoungShip event at Vessel 11. This meant he was immediately able to start building a social network. For expats this is an important factor in establishing yourself quickly and feeling a connection with the local community. Alongside connecting with like-minded shipping professionals, Nicholas also found the diversity of groups in Rotterdam to be enticing. “In Rotterdam you can always find someone with a similar background or affinity. For me that has been a contributing factor in deciding to stay here, at least for the foreseeable future.”
Nicholas is currently working for MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, in their commercial Reefer department.