As a student, you spend years trying to figure out what to do when you “grow up”, but you can never really predict how your career will turn out. Sometimes you end up finding your path in unexpected ways, as was the case for our colleague Max de Boer, Team Lead Production at Pneutec.
a whole new world
Max studied mechanical engineering at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. After he graduated he did some traveling on his motorcycle with a friend, then was jobless for a short while when his mom sent him a listing for a role at Pneutec. He figured he needed to start somewhere – and his mom was on his case to get a job – so he decided to go for it.
“The job overlapped with what I studied, but when I first stood outside Pneutec I could not have imagined what was happening inside,” Max says. “All the technology, how a cleanroom works, all the rules… What we do is quite technologically advanced. I had no idea that companies like this even existed. It was a whole new world opening up to me.”
In the three years since Max joined, he’s gotten a crash course in the world of Pneutec. He’s worked on projects ranging from reverse engineering a module made by Pneutec’s competition, to working on tooling for the cleanroom, to training warehouse colleagues to use Pneutec’s new enterprise resource planning system, to building a prototype for ASML from scratch. “It’s been challenging at times, but also quite nice to not only do one thing,” he says.
a new set of challenges
Now Max has started a new role as Team Leader Production. He supervises the mechatronics and TOC departments as well as the Saturday crew, which consists mostly of students working in the cleanroom. It’s his first leadership role, and that means a new set of challenges.
“I need to give special attention to the people in my teams and learn how to talk to very different people from a variety of cultures,” Max says. “Everybody reacts differently and you have to get used to that, but I like the challenge, and I’m learning a lot by watching how our Production Manager handles things.”
a personal connection
Luckily Max is definitely a people person. “My favorite thing here is working with my colleagues,” he says. “The company’s not so big, so you can have a personal connection with everyone. Normally an engineer doesn’t interact much with people from other departments, but I’ve done a lot and I still have those connections. I catch up with people and see if everything is OK, and I also help organize events like pub quizzes and Viking Runs. I love it when people join and they have an amazing time.”
Another thing Max has had to get used to is having a lot of freedom. “I’ve really felt like the company trusts me to carry out projects on my own and believes that I can figure it out,” he explains. “I’ve had to get used to the fact that I don’t have to constantly ask for permission – I can decide what’s the best thing to do. Not a lot of 25-year-olds get to do that.”
Max’s journey has been full of twists and turns, but he’s enjoying the ride. “With each thing I’ve done here, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how it turns out,” he says. “I’m supposed to think about my next step, but whenever I try to predict the future it ends up being completely different. For now my goals are to be there for my team, get everything up and running, and learn how to be a good team lead. I think it’s a fit for me but time will tell!”