Sometimes a simple change can be a catalyst for major improvement. Such was the case for Bas-Jan Hoogenberg, Lead Engineer at Mogema. After completing his studies in medical engineering in Groningen and Zurich, Bas-Jan worked as an engineer and then project manager at a company in Enschede, making chips for medical engineering applications. He lived in Zwolle and was getting tired of all the commuting, so he started looking for jobs closer to home.
Bas-Jan ended up applying for a project manager role at Mogema, but learned that it wouldn’t be as technical as he preferred. The recruiter suggested a role as Lead Engineer, but at first glance it also wasn’t an obvious fit. “Our customers’ technologies are very familiar to me, but the role also involved developing welding technologies and I knew nothing about welding,” he explains. “I needed to convince them to hire me, but they also needed to convince me that I could learn it and be a good fit.”
In the end they succeeded, and Bas-Jan now happily works as Lead Engineer, focused on developing new products for customers and running R&D projects. “My job combines many different technical fields as well as project management, which I like because I’m more of a generalist,” he says.
Those R&D projects have turned out to be the highlight of Bas-Jan’s work. “I really enjoy going to conferences and doing research to find ways to advance our technologies,” he says. What’s more, he feels supported to make his ideas reality. “Management gives broad guidance on where we need to go, and I’m left free to deep dive into what’s available and come up with a solution,” he explains. “My projects are my babies and they give me the space and also the budget to grow them into mature technologies.”
Those feelings of trust and freedom extend to his manager. “My manager is quite relaxed,” Bas-Jan says. “He tells me on a high level what he expects from me, but within that I’m allowed to do what I think is best. He lets me focus on what I like and what I’m good at and add value in my own way.”
Bas-Jan isn’t so free that he feels lost, however. “My previous job was at a smaller company, and to get stuff done I had to do it all by myself,” he explains. “Here it’s more structured. Everybody has their own tasks and their own expertise. You have to delegate and ask others for help. It took me some time to learn, but in the end you see that it’s more efficient and also more relaxed because you don’t have to do everything yourself and everybody can just focus on what they’re good at.”
Bas-Jan is also learning other ways to get things done. “A big organization is like a train; once it’s running it’s hard to push in another direction,” he says. “If you want to change things you have to be persistent and proactive. I think that if we all do that, and try to solve problems ourselves, then things will just keep getting better.”
In the future Bas-Jan would like to focus even more on R&D and work across the four advanced mechatronics companies. “It is good to have people mixing between the companies,” he explains. “If you enter a company as an outsider, that gives you a much broader view. You may propose several stupid ideas, but one could be a good idea they haven’t thought of yet. We’ve already innovated a lot within our companies. Now the low hanging fruit is taking things that are known within our companies and combining them to create new value.”
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