When Mikkel Schiønning Larsen was a child he dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a photographer. But an after-school job at a local carpenter opened his eyes to good craftmanship. Today Mikkel is a construction engineer at the university building AAU SUND in Aalborg where humour and communication are the most important tools.
Mistakes happen at a construction site. They are impossible to avoid when building big projects. To me what matters is how we handle the mistakes, and humour and communication are crucial parts of that.
It hurts to hand over a project
I have been a builder ever since I was little. As a boy I loved helping out and building something with my hands. So, I got a job at a carpenter early on. It was a small workplace but to me it was exiting to create something. Later, when choosing which way to go the carpentry attracted me.
Internship at New Aalborg University hospital
I got my apprentice certificate in 2011 and worked as a carpenter for three years. After that I started my construction architect education. That’s where I first heard of MT Højgaard and got the opportunity to intern at the shell contract at NAU. It was an enormous project, and I had the best and educational time. On my last semester I called my boss at MT Højgaard to ask if could be useful at another project. Shortly after I was hired at the housing project Kildeparken in Aalborg. I was a part of conducting it from construction pit to handover. That was a great feeling.
Benefitting from my background in carpentry
Today I am a construction engineer at the university building AAU SUND in Aalborg, and my background in carpentry is priceless. I understand the worker’s workday and the challenges that occur on the construction site. My overview gets better and I learn something new every day. That’s how going to work should be.
Mikkel has had a close collaboration with senior project manager Mads Olsson on both Kildeparken and AAU SUND where they both work today.
Mistakes happen at a construction site. They are impossible to avoid when building big projects. To me what matters is how we handle the mistakes, and humour and communication are crucial parts of that. If a subcontractor and I have misunderstood each other I sometimes say: “We have to bring cake if we haven’t solved it before Wednesday”. That approach makes going to work more fun and, in my experience, it creates better results.
On steady ground
At first my time in MT Højgaard was demanding. I was learning all the systems and getting acquainted with my project at the same time. On top of that I had just had a child so everything was new. I feel like I’m on steady ground now, and that feels good.
Difficult to let go of the projects
I’ve had two major highlights in MT Højgaard. The handover of Kildeparken was a big day. The consultant and client were at the inspection, and I could see in their eyes that they were exited about the result. We had lunch at a restaurant in Aalborg, and it was nice but sad at the same time. It hurts to hand over a project that you cared about.
It was also very special when we won the AAU SUND project where I work now. I was a part of the tender calculation. That was a first for me. The tendering was very intense. We won with a small margin, and it was wild to be in the same room with the competitors hearing the result. At the office our boss had bought golden clothes, we rang the bell, and we celebrated. You remember a day like that forever.
Today, I am a construction engineer at the university building AAU SUND in Aalborg, and my background in carpentry is priceless.