Port of Aalborg: Where careers dock for change-makers

by Nathalia Hentze Nielsen

Since Aalborg’s inception over a millennium ago, Aalborg Harbor has been a defining element in the culture around which Aalborg is built, serving as the focal point for generations of Aalborg residents’ livelihoods.

Back then, they were dockworkers.

Today, “Aalborg Harbor” is known as Port of Aalborg, having transformed into a role equally vital to Aalborg but with a different focus.

In 2024, Port of Aalborg still employs dockworkers in yellow reflective vests adept at crane operations.

However, the workforce now also includes engineers, sustainability specialists, controllers, lawyers, economists, real estate agents, sales consultants, IT developers, and much more.

Three Employees, three Fields

Port of Aalborg boasts a diverse team of specialists among its 100 employees, with Kristian Thulesen Dahl at the helm as director. The workforce comprises both skilled dockworkers and highly educated professionals specializing in specific areas.

This becomes evident as MyAalborg visits the cozy office spaces in Østhavnen. The contrast between the vast wind turbine blades encircling the office and the interior ambiance is striking.

We meet with three employees, each representing a different field within Port of Aalborg.

Had these three been placed in offices at a larger agency or IT firm, no one would bat an eye. Their job titles also reflect their extensive higher education in fields seemingly unrelated to port operations.

We sit down with Bjarke Møller, a Development Consultant; Mette Kromann Mandrup, a Senior Engineer and Project Manager; and Anna Caroline Havn Andersen, a Marketing Coordinator.

All three have agreed to shed light on what makes Port of Aalborg unique and why specialized expertise is crucial in their respective fields.

Meet the team

Bjarke Møller Age
38 years old
Employed at Port of Aalborg for three years
Education: Master’s degree in Organization and Strategy
Position: Development Consultant in the Research & Development department

Mette Kromann Mandrup Age
41 years old
Employed at Port of Aalborg for two years
Position: Senior Engineer & Project Manager

Anna Caroline Havn Andersen
27 years old
Employed at Port of Aalborg for one and a half years
Education: Master’s degree with a specialization in sales and marketing
Position: Marketing Coordinator

Bjarke Møller. Photo: Simone Kjølby Christensen

Pioneering a greener future

Bjarke Møller, a former professional ice hockey player for Aalborg Pirates, breaks the ice when asked about his experiences at private gatherings.

“I usually ask how much time they have,” Bjarke says with a smile.

“The operations of a commercial port are complex, and people’s perceptions of what one does in such a company can vary greatly. But I often explain that I rarely wander around in a reflective vest by the large ships.”

Bjarke continues, “A port today encompasses much more than just piers and ship arrivals. We have many employees with diverse backgrounds in universities and vocational education, each contributing to vital efforts for the port.

What unites us is the complexity of our work, often requiring interdisciplinary collaboration due to the many stakeholders involved in port operations and development,” he explains.

In Bjarke Møller’s department, there’s a strong focus on developing green solutions from a global perspective, involving the creation of new logistics concepts.

“We aim to make the logistics industry greener, and we strive to increase awareness and provide solutions through our offerings. We want to move as much cargo as possible onto ships or trains, for instance,” Bjarke explains.

This requires thinking outside the box and fostering innovation, developing ideas where Aalborg can make a difference in the world.

Mette Kromann Mandrup. Photo: Simone Kjølby

Innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration

The same holds true for Mette Kromann Mandrup, who oversees all land infrastructure aspects at Port of Aalborg.

She finds fulfillment in encountering new challenges that haven’t been solved before.

“Everything is massive out here. If it’s not long, it’s heavy. That presents many exciting challenges where you can’t just look up the solution in a book.

I find that aspect of the job truly exciting. We’re also adept at interdisciplinary collaboration, as larger tasks typically require the collective efforts of specialists skilled in various areas – infrastructure, port operations, economics, construction, engineering, and so on.

It makes for some incredibly engaging workdays,” Mette says.

She emphasizes Port of Aalborg’s strong commitment to green transition to create a better future.

“I’ve worked at several other places where they claim to be sustainable. But this is the first place where actions speak louder than words, and I’m proud to be part of it,” the project manager stresses.

Responsibility and ownership as motivation

Colleague Anna Caroline Andersen lights up when Mette mentions pride in the workplace.

“I’ve been at Port of Aalborg during my studies and now as an employee. One of the things I proudly share with my social circle is the responsibility one gets to take in a company of this size.

Whether as a student assistant, intern, or recent graduate, you’re entrusted with responsibilities and ownership of various tasks,” Anna remarks.

She continues, “During my internship, for example, I was responsible for organizing our booth and planning the entire trip for several employees to an international trade fair in Hamburg, which was crucial for the sales department’s future work.

It means you develop immensely because you take responsibility and apply many of the tools you acquired during your education in practice. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”

No maritime experience required

A potential deterrent to applying to a place like Port of Aalborg might be the assumption that one needs extensive maritime knowledge.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as it’s not much different here than in many other companies.

“You can’t study and prepare for this job. You need to spend a few years here before you really grasp everything about working in a port.

And there’s great understanding for that, as everyone goes through the same learning curve when they start here. That sentiment is almost part of the training.

But it’s also incredibly challenging that your knowledge and daily tasks never remain static, and you’re constantly working across disciplines with skilled individuals in their respective areas.

So, don’t be afraid that you’re not an expert in port operations when you apply for a job or get hired. You’ll quickly be picked up by your colleagues,” Mette comments.

Bjarke Møller adds, “I think it took me about two years to fully understand how everything fits together at Port of Aalborg.

But that doesn’t mean you feel inadequate in the meantime. You’re just constantly learning, which is why I find this job much more challenging than many others.”

Making a real difference in the world

All three nod emphatically when asked if they feel they can make a difference in shaping things that could impact our future daily lives.

“It’s both exciting and appealing to me to be involved in development projects with other stakeholders in the industry because that way, I contribute to the development of new solutions in general.

At the same time, I get to work on how that very development can be advantageous for the port, both now and in the future,” Bjarke Møller says.

Anna, who works in the marketing department and is responsible for a network for the wind industry, elaborates, “You get to be in the engine room for both major and minor decisions. The professional skills you build during your education come into play, and your suggestions are heard and tested.”

The coffee machine interrupts the conversation, which could have gone on for hours.

The insight into Port of Aalborg as a workplace and company is fascinating and layered with complexity.

Perhaps that’s precisely what makes it one of Aalborg’s most intriguing places to work.

You can read more about Port of Aalborg as a workplace and view available positions here.

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