Recently there have been many changes to the Board and Regional Representatives team of YWPDK. This meant that we needed to say thank you and bye to some very central people who have been leading the network in the previous years. We will in this series of interviews put focus on the people who have been fundamental to where the network is today. In this edition we present Thor Danielsen, who has been central to drive and lead the network for many years. Thor spent 5 years as a Board member, out of which 3 years he was the Chair. Thor has been a key person to shape the network, setting its strategy and driving it to where it is today.
Thank you Thor for the hard work and tremendous contribution to the network!
"YWPDK offers the space for people with drive to pursue their interests and initiate projects in fields that they would not be exposed to in their daily job."
You have been 5 years as a board member, where 3 of them were as Chairman. What did you gain personally from YWPDK, IWA, and by leading the network through your time as chair?
Where to start?
I originally joined the network in 2016 to plan the national conference. Back then, I was in the middle of my master studies. I quickly realized how much inspiration and energy I gained from the collaboration and talks with people from different parts of the water sector. This inspired me to join the board, and since then I have gained a valuable network and learned so much.
I would highlight a few things that I value the most. The first is a network of friends, who are talented and passionate about their work in the water sector. This has given me a deeper understanding of the different aspects of the sector, but also good friends that I can ask for advice or grab a beer with outside of work.
The second is a chance to pursue my own ideas and develop soft skills within communication, leadership, strategy and organization. YWPDK offers the space for people with drive to pursue their interests and initiate projects in fields that they would not be exposed to in their daily job.
The third is a broad and international network and understanding of the water sector from a global perspective. Water is a global challenge and engaging with the IWA has given me a chance to understand how the water sector works on an international level.
"It is a safe space where young people can pursue their curiosity, meet like-minded people, and build a network that can support them for the rest of their career."
Many milestones have been achieved during your period as chair, could you describe the three greatest moments that you´ve had in the network?
It is hard to highlight just three, as I think back on a lot of good moments and achievements.
The first conference I was part of organizing when I first joined the network. What an experience to help put such an event together! I had never tried something like that before, so it was a great experience to see it all come together after so much work. This was also the first time I experienced what the broad knowledge of the member base in YWPDK could provide.
The conference and election for the board in 2020 just before Covid lockdowns was another highlight for me. It stands as the culmination of a lot of work leading up to this. We had worked as a new board for some time together and really taken the network to a new level in my opinion. The conference in Odense was then such a great conference at a very high standard. We broke the record for attendance, and we had many members running for positions on the board and as regional representatives. This was a very proud moment for me to see how many people were contributing and willing to run for an official position in the network and how we had raised the bar for what the network could accomplish through its members.
The last thing I want to highlight is the first team weekend I organized with the aim of putting together a strategy for the network, and use that to guide our work towards 2023. It was an example of initiating something new that I had not tried before. The whole team bought into the idea and we created something that has been central to where we have taken the network today. Since then many team weekends have followed, and I believe it adds a lot to the network as we bond together as a team, and we take the time needed to strategize on where the network needs to go and how we take it there. This has also helped develop my own skills and to this day I use the experience I got by organizing the first team weekend.
What do you think is the most important role for YWPDK, looking at the current and future demands in the Danish Water sector?
I think the focus areas of YWPDK’s strategy illustrates quite well the role of the network.
We provide a platform and network for young people entering the water sector. It is a safe space where young people can pursue their curiosity, meet like-minded people, and build a network that can support them for the rest of their career. It is a network where ideas and knowledge flow without the boundaries of one’s organizational belonging and area of expertise.
The network is a voice in the Danish water sector that ensures we create a future proof sector where the talents of tomorrow wants to be employed. In that same role we support international YWPs in creating and strengthening their YWP chapters.
YWPDK is as well an integrator to the international water sector. We know that water is a global challenge but often solved locally. At the same time Denmark has an ambition to help solve the worlds water challenges. YWPDK can be one of the important international connection points for bringing back knowledge and exporting technology and know-how.
"I believe that YWPDK is at an ideal position. The sector listens to the voice of YWPs."
How do you envision the future activities and the progression of the role of YWPK nationally and internationally?
I believe that the ambition at the moment in terms of activity level is just right. Now it is about what type of services to offer in order to always align with the needs of the members and the sector.
I believe that YWPDK is at an ideal position. The sector listens to the voice of YWPs. The network was involved in the climate partnership talks of the Danish Government, and it is important that this role is maintained and that the network knows what type of input to give and how to ensure involvement.
Internationally I believe and hope that the network will play a central role. There is a need for structured collaboration and events with other YWP chapters. Most focus being put on the regional chapters in Europe and Scandinavia.
What would be your advice to anyone contemplating on increasing his or her activity in the network or even joining the board?
I would say – JUST DO IT! The network gives you so much. The more you give, the more it gives back. This is a great opportunity for passionate and driven people to join and develop themselves. It takes hard work, but it is worth it.
Can you shed some light on what you are going to be involved in now that you are no longer in the board, and how do you see the role of past YWPDK members in relation to the network?
I will be following the network closely and always be open to help or give advice if needed. As I am not living in Denmark my physical presence will be limited. When I return to Denmark in a few years I plan on attending events again and be an active member of a regional group.
I believe we have a great opportunity to involve past members. As the network gets older, we will have more and more past members in senior positions. The past members are a great source of knowledge and insights. It is important that the network draws upon the goodwill of past members to plan attractive events and to get advice on where to go next.