"You can take so many different paths here and there are many opportunities."

Publication date: 23 May 2023 I Reading time: Minute

From a degree in social sciences to working as a contract manager at Schiphol. Starting as a trainee at Schiphol was not the most obvious next step for Richard Tibbesma. But it made perfect sense to him. Contract management is social science. "Switching between people, content and business objectives is often the biggest challenge. Finding a good balance between them is important."

"Everything I do relates to people and their relations and environment."

I was loaned to Schiphol by an external party and started a 2-year traineeship within the IT department. Coming in as a junior and progressing to Scrum Master and then moving on to Product Owner, Contract Manager, Senior Contract Manager and eventually Team Lead IT Contract Management. You can take so many different paths here and there are many opportunities. You just have to grab them."


"Now I am responsible for a diverse team of eight contract managers. I report on the work they deliver. We support the business so that we can achieve our objectives. An example of such an objective is that there are always available and reliable assets at the terminals. We need working IT systems. This ranges from security cameras to flight information displays, and from security gates to IT workstations. In case of breakdowns or failures, we are not the ones holding the tools. Our suppliers do that based on the agreements that have been made. Clear communication and good cooperation are very important. And that's where that social science comes in."

"Looking ahead and preventing problems – that's what we do on a daily basis. As long as you don't hear anything from us, things are going smoothly. We are like referees, waiting to blow the whistle."

Sustainable contracts

"When procuring services from suppliers, we have to comply with the Procurement Act. We can't just go and change lots of things in the middle of a contract. We have to set targets for a better environment in advance. Our maintenance engineers now travel in diesel-powered work buses. In the future, these will have to be electric. New hardware should use less energy than old hardware. And is throwing away old stuff necessary or can we reuse it? If we choose to recycle, we check with the supplier that it has actually happens."

Thinking along

"When you choose Schiphol, you choose a certain level of stability. It is a huge organisation that offers a huge range of employment. That also means that we are always under a magnifying glass. Especially when it comes to the environment and sustainability; there are improvements to be made and all help is welcome. Get off the sidelines and get to work. Right in the heart of change. Think along with us. Be part of the solution for which you are given all the freedom to come up with."

Be yourself

"I have a lot of autonomy in my job. I perform my work in the way that I want, as long as it is within the given framework. And performing my job well doesn't stop there. I also play a role in diversity and inclusion at Schiphol. It is important that everyone can be themselves and I like to give that subject a big stage. You have to radiate inclusiveness. That ranges from symbolic rainbow key cords to making colleagues aware that they can always be themselves."