Webbies at Stolt in Rotterdam!

Stolt Tankers in Rotterdam, Netherlands, saw its “Webb network” grow from one to many this winter, as new employees joined and winter work students from ship and shore gathered to sample Dutch beer, travel through Europe, and work on various Stolt projects.

Bret Smart ’09 was the first new arrival, in November, and he jumped right into Stolt’s Ship Management Suite project, an ambitious $6 million plan to move all of Stolt’s ship management operations from 20+ separate outdated systems into one unified program.  While enjoying river rides on the “Pancake Boat,” Bret called Rotterdam an “intriguing city,” contrasting Rotterdam’s modern identity after the merciless bombing of World War II with the nearby historical centers of Amsterdam and Den Haag.  Bret will see Rotterdam at its best with long summer evenings after returning from his Singapore posting; he plans to head back to graduate school in the fall.

Matthew Donatelli ’08 started his career with Stolt in January after pulling up stakes in New York and relocating to Rotterdam.  Matt is a Project Engineer in the Newbuilding and Technical Department, working on projects ranging from propulsion duct retrofits to ballast water treatment installations to Stolt’s newbuilding bitumen tankers in China.  Matt’s high-tech bicycle has found good use in Holland, with the Dutch preferring to “go green” with leg power in city commuting.  His only major disappointment since coming here was when his hometown Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV in February.

Ryan Pfeiffer ’11 joined Bret on the SMS project for his senior winter work assignment and experienced the challenges involved in owning and operating a large fleet of ships.  Taking advantage of Rotterdam’s location, Ryan noted, “On weekends I was able to travel around Europe and reconnect with old classmates while exploring countries and cultures.”  He managed to navigate the busy bike commute through winter weather without an incident, and concluded, “Living in Rotterdam provides a good social life!”  (Rotterdam was voted European Youth Capital in 2009.)

Colin Spillane ’13 and Troy Zangle ’13 sailed aboard chemical tanker Stolt Emerald from Houston to Europe and back for their sophomore ship assignment.  The routines of daily life in engine room and on deck were enlivened by ping pong, the weather (calm eastbound, tempestuous westbound), and when in Caribbean waters, basketball on the aft deck bounded by old cargo nets (though Colin and Troy sadly report they followed Webb basketball tradition with a losing record after being dominated by the ship’s Filipino contingent).  When they arrived in Rotterdam, a few days shore leave provided a “Webbie night” at the home of Mark Martecchini ’79 (watching the NFC Championship) and sightseeing with Matt and Ryan around Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Martecchini, head of Stolt’s Shipowning division, said it was fantastic that Webb students got the opportunity to broaden their horizons while learning how to be great contributors in the workplace.  “Shipping is a truly international business; the more Webbies see of the world, the more highly their skills will be sought after by global companies,” said Martecchini.  Before Stolt moved its Houston office to Rotterdam in 2002, Stolt had five Webb grads on staff.  Martecchini would like to build to that level again with the next generation, observing, “When you need to get things done, Webb grads deliver.”