Originally planning to become a schoolteacher rather than staying at NIRAS, Henriette Ernborg Gerlach decided that working on interdisciplinary projects suited her better. Along the way, she learned that being able to pull the plug is essential to her wellbeing – now she goes on road trips with her husband.
Project manager Henriette Ernborg Gerlach talks to us through a Microsoft Teams link while spending time at her vacation house.
Originally an environmental biologist, she has been with NIRAS for about ten years, starting out on an hourly contract. At that time, she was in the process of shifting occupations completely and was studying to become a teacher, something she had decided on after a period of stress.
She took a job at NIRAS because she “needed to earn some money alongside her studies,” she says. Eventually, she got her teaching degree yet decided to stay with the company.
Along with other colleagues at NIRAS, she used her newly acquired degree to teach climate adaptation and sustainability in primary schools across Denmark. Later, as a project manager, she was put in charge of many different climate adaptation, nature and environmental projects. Since 2018, she has worked as a specialist manager in connection with the electrification of the railway between Aarhus and Aalborg.
Henriette says working on big interdisciplinary projects is something she enjoys immensely. These include infrastructure projects and planning for surface water and climate adaptation. Henriette considers projects like these challenging, which she appreciates, but at the end of the day, she remembers to pull the plug and retreat from projects to focus on other matters of importance.
"I have previously been stressed and I don't want to end up there again. Now I work 30 hours a week and go on road trips with my husband - sometimes for several months."
Henriette Ernborg Gerlach
Seize the moment
"It’s important for me to take the time to do other things. I've been stressed before and I don't want to end up there again. So, I have adjusted my life. Now I work 30 hours a week – and occasionally I take a few months off and then my husband and I go on a road trip. Before COVID-19, we went twice. We throw our tent in the car and drive off. We have no plans. We just see what the day brings – as opposed to sticking to a work calendar," she says.
The adventurous couples most recent trip took them across Europe on a four month journey, beginning in May and returning home in September. Originally, they planned to leave in 2022, but an exciting project got in the way.
"At NIRAS, there’s a rate of flexibility I have not experienced elsewhere. It gives me the opportunity to organise my life the way I want to. You have to seize the moment and live while you can. That is the most important thing – don't save it for when you retire," she says.