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“Proud to obtained my ECOL certificate at Sarens.”

Meet Annemie

Get to know me

Full name

Annemie Van De Velde

Job title

Crane Operator



Business unit

Sarens BE - Depot Ghent

At Sarens since


Image Sarens


Annemie exemplifies how women can thrive in the heavy lifting industry. We can describe Annemie in three words: ambitious, passionate, and social. She is a mother of two wonderful children, aged 10 and 12, and seamlessly juggles her family responsibilities with her career. Her fascination with large machines dates back to her childhood, when she eagerly assisted her father, a truck driver, during her school holidays. This early exposure ignited her passion for heavy equipment, eventually leading her to pursue a career as a crane operator.

How did you end up at Sarens?

Before I started here, I had already worked as a Crane Operator for 15 years. However, I had to step away from the role due to challenges of balancing it with the demands of raising two young children. As any Crane Operator knows, you know when you start, but you never know when you'll come home. The job’s duration can be unpredictable - what starts as a short day often extends into a 12-hour shift. Now that my children are a bit older, I felt it was the right time to return to my passion: working as a Crane Operator. I knew the Planner at Sarens Belgium – Depot Ghent (Shout out to Christian!) and he always encouraged me to apply at Sarens. In 2023 I did, and after a smooth application process I started as a Crane Operator at Sarens Belgium – Depot Ghent. Today, I operate various telescopic mobile cranes ranging from 35 to 150 tons, and tackle jobs in petrochemical plants as well as on civil engineering sites.

"You know when you start, but you never know when you'll come home. "

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You already knew how to operate a crane, so how did Sarens support you initially?

It had been a while since I had operated a crane, but it’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to operate something like that. However, since I was working for a different company in the past, it was important to get to know all the Sarens people and the specific Sarens procedures of course. Sarens also gave me the opportunity to obtain my ECOL certificate (European Crane Operators Licence) at the Sarens’ training centre in Wolvertem, Belgium. I succeeded, and became the second woman to achieve certification with ECOL.  

"I became the second woman to achieve certification with ECOL."

There are few female crane operators. How do you experience that?

It is indeed an industry dominated by men, but there are also women who excel in the field and enjoy it. Personally, I haven’t encountered any issues with it whatsoever. I am used to operate in an environment where the majority are men. I see it as an advantage: being a woman among all those men. They are more curious towards you, and they also have a lot of respect for you when you’re performing the same tasks as they are. My male colleagues aren’t hesitant to give feedback; they’ll let me know if I’ve done a good job, and likewise, if there’s room for improvement. I appreciate their open, direct, and honest communication style.

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Working at Sarens feels like…

Enjoying a hobby. It’s about engaging in something you genuinely enjoy, at least for me. I actually look forward to going to work each day; it’s the best part of my day. And when I return home in the evening, I love telling my kids about my day. Each day brings new excitement and challenges, making it really fun! Hitting the road with the machine is a blast; it gives you a sense of freedom as you go to different places. It’s more than just a job; it’s a passion, right! Doing your job well, making a client happy with the service you provide, it feels good. The vibe at Sarens itself is also always positive, which makes it even better!

"Hitting the road with the crane gives you a sense of freedom."

What is important to consider when starting out as a crane operator?

The job of a Crane Operator may not be suited for everyone. Physically, it’s not overly demanding, but you must be willing to get your hands dirty, especially when maintaining the crane or other equipment. When you’re greasing the crane, expect to see some dirt.

Additionally, a good logical insight is important. Flexibility is also key, because you’ll encounter various challenges and situations on the job. Being proactive and attentive is crucial; you need to stay on top of everything at all times, for safety and quality reasons. Ultimately, what matters most is passion. You’ve got to adore your crane! (Laughs)

"Logical insight, flexible, proactive and willing to get your hands dirty."


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