Joey Bohncke, graduated in Urban Planning, Urban and Regional Planning in 2005
My choice for Urban and Regional Planning was easy. Geography, maps, the development of architectural styles, the design and structure of cities and their underlying infrastructure have been interests of mine since a very young age.
In the course of the degree programme it became increasingly clear that the municipal side of things didn’t appeal to me, whereas the business sector did. I entered the world of project management as a planner and project manager (in training) at the head office of ING Bank after completing a work placement at a development company, and while still at University. I decided that I wanted to continue in this field. Since completing my education, I have continued developing my skills in area management and later in project control on large infrastructure projects at various consultancy firms.
I currently work as a project consultant at Balance, a consultancy firm that operates mainly in the infrastructure sector and mainly supervises major rail, road, water and energy infrastructure projects. This ties in well with the specialisation of TTI (traffic, transport and infrastructure) and my desire to work in a project environment. What’s more, the expertise I gained from the Urban and Regional Planning programme and my experience means I can be deployed in many areas. Besides playing a role in infrastructure projects, I can also assist in development projects and spatial planning issues. Balance has invested in me by putting me through a training programme, as a result of which I now have valuable project management certificates and extensive knowledge on integrated project control.
One of the large projects I am working on at present involves the widening and streamlining of major highways/motorways in the south of Amsterdam. My role in this project is to verify changes to the execution and plans and to examine the effects these have on the original contract scope, the budget and the planning schedule. This is quite a challenge, because if these changes have significant effects, the project will become more expensive and/or take longer to complete.
Though of course you learn the most in practice, I’ve noticed that it's highly beneficial to have a sound theoretical knowledge of how cities develop, and of different conceptualisations of spatial planning and infrastructure. The analytical, critical and broad perspectives you develop at University are also very useful.
My programme offered me many directions for development, from which I composed the ideal package for my future career. While some of the mandatory courses offered might prove redundant later on, you'll often find that you're happy you stored the knowledge somewhere. It’s also useful to spend some time during your studies thinking about what you want to do later, to select the right specialisations to help you achieve that and to do a work placement – even if it isn't a requirement. This will teach you a lot of things that will be relevant to your development. Explore as many options as you can and don't forget the importance of having an active social life – for your subsequent professional network too!