Employee Spotlight: Nikola Erdelja

For this edition of our popular #TalentedTeamwork series, we meet Nikola Erdelja, who has been a Technical Engineer in the Engineering and Innovation department at Delmec for five years. He recounts what first attracted him to the company, how much he enjoys travelling and meeting new people, and why you won’t find a cheese sandwich in his lunchbox!

Last year saw Delmec win awards from Deloitte and County Carlow Chamber for innovation in our field. These kinds of accolades are the result of hard work and dedication across the entire company, but some of our most exciting developments come from the Delmec Engineering and Innovation department. Technical Engineer Nikola Erdelja has been part of this dynamic team for more than five years.

Nikola first came across Delmec when he was looking for the right role after completing his education in structural engineering in Zagreb, Croatia. “I was searching for a job as a design engineer, and Delmec sounded like a good opportunity to improve my knowledge in steel design,” he recalls. “As it turns out, I gained so much more, including the opportunity to learn new things every day and participate in many different projects around the world.”

Of course, much of our international travel was paused for two years, but this year Nikola found himself back on the road again. His work took him to new places including Dakar, Senegal in April. “That was my first time visiting Africa,” he says. “It was a really interesting experience, and I enjoyed meeting many of the clients and colleagues I had previously only talked to remotely.”

Working closely with clients as a consultant on projects is a part of the job that Nikola relishes. “I like how Delmec is consistently growing, and I’m excited about the direction it’s going in,” he says. “Embarking on projects in Africa, Asia and Europe, opening new offices across the world and providing opportunities for employees to develop themselves is what makes it a special company.”

Nikola’s experience and expertise in infrastructure is in demand throughout our industry, and he’s been invited to participate in roundtable discussions at TowerXchange events. Like everyone in his team, he’s always keen to learn from clients and colleagues, staying ahead of the curve in a fast-moving industry. He also contributes white papers as part of his role, most recently on the important subject of wind and ice loading.

Asked for a little-known fact, Nikola shares with us a somewhat unusual aversion to a common comfort food. “I don’t like cheese,” he laughs. “I’m not allergic, just hate the taste!” Luckily here at Delmec, we welcome diversity, celebrating our cheese-loving and cheese-hating team members alike.

When he’s not at his desk, on a site or representing Delmec, Nikola likes to keep fit. “I like to run and play tennis,” he says. “Before we started working from home, we used to play football at Delmec’s HQ in Carlow and it was great fun — hopefully we can get together to have a kick-about again soon.”


Delmec in Spain: Team Report from GSMA Mobile World Congress 2023

Delmec has always been a company that likes to get out into the world. While a lot of our work takes place behind computers, in front of drawings, or 30 metres in the air, we enjoy meeting new clients, colleagues and customers. Major telecommunications events such as the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2023 (MWC23) represent great opportunities for our team to engage with other industry stakeholders, learning their pain points, solutions and upcoming plans.

“MWC23 helps to keep Delmec at the forefront of developments in the future,” Delmec CEO Kealan Delaney says.  “We get to see many emerging projects and cutting-edge concepts, which is an invaluable insight for us and our clients.”

The team travelled to Barcelona to attend the congress, welcomed by Senior Manager Spain Agustín Gómez Sáez, who was on hand to show his colleagues around his home city. They found GSMA 2023 busier than ever — the organisers’ first full-capacity event since the pandemic. “Halls were crowded, stands were flamboyantly dressed, and everyone was vying to show off what they had developed during lockdown,” recalls Head of Product Development Urban Solutions Andrew Griffin. “People were glad to meet face-to-face, shake hands and discuss our industry at length.”

Among the attendees were equipment vendors including Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE, as well as antenna suppliers like Alpha-Wireless and Delmec clients such as Vodadone and Cellnex. “This is very much a home event for Cellnex, as their HQ is located less than 200m from the venue,” Andrew notes. “Their stand was a busy one, with suppliers and customers constantly coming and going.”

“Each year at MWC, there is a technology trend that catches our attention,” says Kealan. “Last year, that was Open RAN, and this year it was private 5G networks.” While Open RAN was still a feature for the smaller equipment vendors (and Vodafone, who demonstrated an interesting solution), private 5G was clearly the hot topic for most.

Multiple stands broadcasted their capabilities in this field, including hardware and software of varying types, as well as specific use cases and deployment strategies.

Among the antenna supplier stands there emerged a trend to assemble more equipment together on a structure, with a number of companies demonstrating 5G active antennas positioning behind passive antennas.

What this entails is a radio transparent passive antenna through which the active antenna can look. This allows installation of any vendor’s active antenna with that passive antenna; if two or more antennas can be incorporated into one case, the towerco may only have to pay for one space. It also means that the active or passive antenna can be swapped for maintenance reasons at a lower cost as only the items need to separate. However, the team did note that antenna assemblies are getting much larger and as such, will require more heavy duty connections to structures.

The Delmec team were quickly drawn to the Alpha Wireless stand, given our close relationship and ongoing collaboration. “We work together to develop innovative solutions for Cellnex Ireland,” Kealan says. “These include a site at Vicarstown, Co. Laois, and many more — all great examples of Irish companies coming together to connect our communities.”

Kealan and his team — including Senior Technical Consultant Krzysztof Ptak — concluded the event with much to think about. “It was a hectic few days, but a hugely valuable experience,” recalls Kealan. “As always, we were keen to share our experience and expertise, and also gain new insights and fresh knowledge. For example, we learned a great deal about new renewable power solutions, which are always of interest to our clients. As a result, we were able to bring loads back for our Telecoms Energy Consultant Natalia Kononovato review.”

“This is why we continue to take time out of our schedules, get on planes, and attend events like MWC23 — to constantly develop and improve our unique services, offering ever-advancing capabilities to our clients and increasing connectivity to their customers.”


Staying Fit at Fifty: Why I’m Lacing up the Running Shoes Again

In a nice touch of serendipity, Delmec and I are both celebrating the milestone of turning fifty. That half a century has treated us both well, but just as the company has to evolve and adapt for the future, so too does its CEO.

That means taking a look at my work / life balance to see if I can make adjustments to better focus on what really matters — and stay in shape for the next exciting decades to come.

A world of distractions

The New York Times recently interviewed writer Johann Hari, whose latest book, ‘Stolen Focus’ investigates “how our brains have been broken by technology.” He says we typically focus on a given task for just three minutes and we touch or check our phones more than 2,000 times every day, devoting at least three hours to staring at our screens. 

While the jury’s out about who’s at fault — Big Tech or personal willpower? — the impact of this “attention crisis” is undeniable. At an executive level, it can negatively affect a leader’s ability to effectively strategise, plan and execute goals. For this reason as much as any others, I’m working hard this year to carve out time to think, rather than act. This might mean ringfencing deep focus slots in my schedule, minimising my digital use at home, or going for a run with my phone in airplane mode. 

Lockdown lessons

While I normally travel a great deal as part of my work with Delmec, I was fortunate to spend the lockdown periods in my Carlow home, nestled in the Irish countryside. With no planes to catch or commutes to complete, I had more time to explore my surroundings with my family. When my schedule allowed, I often slipped out for a quick run by the River Barrow. 

While it was a different time, the experience taught me that it’s okay to take the time to breathe in some fresh air, get the legs pumping and come back to the desk energised for the rest of the day. Now that our schedules have ramped up again, it’s easy to think a lunchtime run is no longer possible, but it is — I just have to keep my trainers within eyesight in the office.

Keeping fit for the future 

When I was a younger man, I didn’t have to think about keeping fit — daily site visits and weekend sports took care of that. Now that I’m older, I’m aware that I have to put a bit of work into staying hale and hearty for years to come. Delmec is at an exciting stage in its trajectory, expanding into new markets, capabilities and opportunities. We’ve recently acquired FocusPlus, established a separate service (Del-Urban Streetworks Solutions), and tripled our operations over the last three years. The sense of promise in the company is tangible, and I’m determined to match my team’s energy, step by step, as we push forward into the exciting journey ahead.

I’m also conscious of enjoying every minute I can with my family, from kicking a ball around to taking hikes into the Carlow hills. You have to stay fit to keep up with a tireless teenager, and that’s motivation enough for me! 

With all of this to consider, I’m making 2023 the year that I focus on getting the most out of my body and mind. And that starts with lacing up the running shoes again.