ECOL welcomes second woman licence holder

Annemie Van de Velde from Sarens is the second woman crane operator to achieve certification with ECOL – the European Crane Operators Licence.

Growing up with a father who was a truck driver, she developed an early fascination with cranes and machinery. In 2003, she landed her first job at a crane company, kickstarting her career in what remains a predominantly male industry.

She joined Sarens at their depot in Ghent in April this year and, with two decades of experience under her belt, decided to pursue the ECOL certification as she felt the Europe-wide qualification would not only enhance her skills but also help minimise any boundaries to her career.

Today, Van de Velde operates various telescopic mobile cranes ranging from 35 to 150 tons and her expertise allows her to tackle jobs in petrochemical plants as well as on civil engineering sites.

She says that despite being one of the few women in her field, she has been met with respect and admiration from her male colleagues and she appreciates their open, direct, and honest communication style.

Line Rigo, Sarens’ Training and Development Manager said: “Annemie is breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes in the world of mechanics and repairs.

“As a woman thriving in an industry traditionally dominated by men, she serves as an inspiration to others who dare to challenge societal norms. Her story reminds us that determination knows no gender and that passion can lead us to achieve great things.”

Ton Klijn, ESTA Director and chair of the ECOL supervisory board, added: “We are delighted to welcome Annemie to the ECOL family and hope that she and others will persuade many more women to join our industry where they will be welcomed and valued – and be able to pursue a satisfying career.”