What sets EBP apart
Project diversity, a flat organizational structure and regular encounters with new topics in engineering – working at EBP is exciting and multifaceted. Civil engineers Désirée Vetsch and Patrick Saxer talk about what sets EBP apart.
Patrick, you head up the Railway Construction Team and you’ll soon be marking your 10th anniversary at the company. What has encouraged you to stay?
Patrick Saxer: They say that time flies when you’re having fun! And, in fact, the assignments we work on at EBP are interesting and multifaceted. The Railway Construction Team helps our clients to carry out feasibility studies and to plan and realize a diverse and challenging range of railway construction projects. Just recently, we were awarded a contract to carry out an analysis of prerequisites for SBB’s Brüttener Tunnel project. I’m certain the client was impressed by our interdisciplinary services and our ability to work as a cohesive team. A positive team spirit is definitely something that prevails at EBP. I like that a lot.
And Désirée, can you tell us what you enjoy about working on the Developer Consulting Team?
Désirée Vetsch: Our team assumes responsibility for Developer Consulting (DC) and General Project Management (GPM) in the area of infrastructure and roadway construction. At the moment, we’re representing the developers behind the Schwamendingen Tunnel project (DC) and the Teufen Through-Road project (GPM). Assignments of this sort require the careful coordination of various specialist disciplines and the reconciliation of various interests. Organ-izational finesse and generalist thinking are crucial. I like the broad range of assignments in-volved and the contact I have with all of the project participants. The pleasant work atmos-phere made possible by my colleagues at EBP is also something I appreciate a lot. Therefore I gladly accept to commute from St. Gallen to Zürich.
How did you two wind up at EBP?
DV: I completed a 6-month trainiee program at EBP in 2013. That was between my Bachelor and Master’s degree in civil engineering at ETH Zurich. At the time, I was given a fairly de-manding role in an SBB Railway Access Audit. I wound up gaining a lot of valuable experi-ence as a result of my direct contact with the clients. When EBP contacted me during my Master’s studies to inform me of a vacancy, I knew immediately that I wanted to return. I have now been employed at EBP as a project engineer since 2015.
PS: After completing an apprenticeship as an technical draftsman, I studied civil engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil. I originally came into contact with EBP representatives at a Professional Outreach Meeting organized by ETH Zurich. I then took the initiative of attending an open-house event at EBP where university graduates are given an opportunity to find out about the enterprise and to engage in fascinating conversations with employees over a fine apéro (laughs). That inspired me to submit a spontaneous application. As a young civil engineer today, you have excellent prospects for landing a job in a wide range of areas. In the case of EBP, I simply had a good feeling. I was also interested in being able to work on SBB’s Diameter Line project. And yes, EBP’s prime office location at the Stadelhofen Railway Station in Zurich was yet another argument in favor of EBP. Now I’ve been here since fall 2008.
Patrick Saxer: "The focus is not on individual employees, but on the project and the team."
Have there been any occurrences that left a lasting impression?
PS: What I remember most vividly is the final inspection of the very first project I was entrusted to manage on my own. The focus of the project was on enhancing selfrescue provisions in Zurich’s metroline tunnels. For the inspection, the client ordered a small service locomotive, and we spent the whole night riding through Zurich’s metroline tunnels on our own special timetable.
DV: What I found exceptional was the threeday EBP seminar for new employees, an event that includes the participation of the CEO and the President of the Supervisory Board. There’s no better way to gain an insight into EBP’s enterprise culture!
It is said that the organizational structure at EBP is flat and that even new employees are entrusted with key project roles. Do you agree with this claim?
DV: Yes, my experience at EBP confirms that even new employees are encouraged to assume responsibility within projects. And, in fact, I’ve already been put in charge of a number of small projects. In larger projects, I work as a project engineer. The transition from the role of project engineer to project manager is fluid and is not linked to seniority.
PS: I too can confirm that. At EBP, I have always been deployed in accordance with my abilities and interests. That has enabled me to continuously develop my skills as an engineer. After a single year at the company, I was involved in projects where I was the only one in contact with the client. This was naturally not the case in the Diameter Line project, but even there I was encouraged to assume responsibility for ever more subprojects. And today, I’m in charge of the Railway Construction Team.
DV: I have profited enormously from the very mixed age structure of our project teams. The veteran employees take a great interest in the personal development of younger employees. Our teams also are a living example of the mentoring concept.
Désirée Vetsch: "We often complete our projects with colleagues who are experts in other areas."
EBP emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach. How do you experience that?
PS: EBP has expertise in many fields of engineering. We have many specialists across the board. At the Oerlikon Railway Station, for instance, we planned a drainage basin for track runoff water. In case of a freight train derailment, however, the basin might also gather hazardous liquids and harbor the risk of explosion. “Wouldn’t it be great if we had the support of a certified expert in this area,” I thought to myself as I returned from a meeting at SBB. And as it turned out, all I had to do that day was to call our Safety Division.
DV: An interdisciplinary approach is really something that distinguishes EBP. Working in mixed teams is very common in the area of infrastructure and roadway construction where Patrick and I are active. Depending on the needs of our clients, we complete our projects together with colleagues from other divisions, for instance, from Construction Engineering, Transportation Planning, Safety and Communications. EBP unifies all of these disciplines. This also gives me the opportunity to encounter issues in engineering I’m unfamiliar with. You can learn a lot that way, and it makes for a richer and more rewarding work experience.
What else sets EBP apart?
DV: As a commuter, I naturally value EBP’s flexible work model. But what I find even more important is the mutual respect and trust among colleagues. Trust and helping one another are two of the enterprise’s core values.
PS: A special sense of common purpose prevails here. There’s no working at cross purposes. The focus is not on individual employees, but on the project and the team. Work with colleagues is cooperative and constructive.
DV: Even as a younger employee, you can actively engage in projects. Your opinion counts and is even sought out. At EBP, we really live a flat organizational structure.
PS: My experience has shown me that those who do a good job completing their assignments are rewarded with more responsibility – if not in the current project, then certainly in the next. And now as a team leader, I’m committed to passing on the tradition.
Patrick Saxer is head of the Railway Construction Team, a team that helps federal and private railways to complete their projects, from the planning stage to project realization. Depending on the needs of the client, Patrick acts in the capacity of a planner or a consultant. He’s also a regular at the annual lake crossing and EBP’s ski weekends.
Désirée Vetsch is also a mainstay at the EBP ski weekends, not to mention her efforts on behalf of EBP at the SOLA-Stafette crosscountry races. As a civil engineer, Désirée is fascinated by the variety of projects she works on. In the context of planning and realizing infrastructures, she finds it especially motivating to work in creative and interdisciplinary teams.