Sofie Vriens

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Sofie Vriens

Sofie looks back on her year as Change Maker 2020

Sofie Vriens helps to protect ecosystems as a young engineer with MARED. Her ambition is to create a liveable and sustainable environment on our planet.

Sofie cannot make the difference on her own. She is aware of that. But thanks to her positive attitude, her studies and her job, she can call for more attention to take care of our planet. That is why The Shift selected her as one of the Change Makers 2020.

Change Makers are people who make a difference worldwide. The Shift wants to help 30 young people with this by developing their skills, giving them visibility and bringing them into contact with relevant parties. For a year, our colleague Sofie had the opportunity to challenge The Shift and its members in their sustainability strategy.

COVID-19 made it difficult to challenge members and to enter into dialogue with companies during physical meetings. “We looked for solutions and tried to meet virtually once a month”, Sofie explains.

Working on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

In the first place, Change Makers of The Shift are working on SDG 17: Partnership to achieve objectives. “All Change Makers share a LinkedIn group, in which we share interesting messages. We dare to question traditional thoughts and are open to other opinions and ideas,” Sofie explains. “We also regularly organise a Pitch Night, where we present projects to interested parties”, she adds.

Also at Jan De Nul Sofie works on SDGs. “I am currently working on the Formosa 2 Offshore Windfarm project in Taiwan, where we are installing 47 wind turbines at sea, thus providing up to 380,000 Taiwanese families with green energy. This nicely fits into SDG 7: affordable and sustainable energy. The installation of the wind turbines generates underwater noise. It is my job to protect marine mammals, such as the Taiwanese white dolphin, against this noise. This way, I also contribute to SDG 14: life under water.”

The importance of a strong CSR policy

Sofie takes the lead in the Jan De Nul CSR focus group ‘community engagement’. She is convinced of the importance of a strong CSR policy. “If you want to remain competitive and successful as a company, you need a good CSR policy. The expectations of stakeholders and governments all over the world continue to grow. Thus, the CSR policy should evolve too. The commitment and involvement of all employees and the management are crucial.”

Sofie is very happy with the experience she has gained over the past year: “The group has motivated me even more to help facilitate the transition to a sustainable future, both within and outside the company. In addition, the Change Makers’ group consists of various profiles. I can now rely on a strong network, a source of knowledge, advice, inspiration and new perspectives.”