As a system architect at VDL ETG T&D, you're a spider in a web of technology. Switching between electronics, mechanics, mechatronics, and software can be quite a job sometimes, but that is where colleagues like Wouter (34) come in. He has been a system architect for 2 years now, and mainly works on projects for ASML. We asked him how he likes his job.
How did you end up at VDL?
“I’ve always had a passion for engineering. That was also why I chose to do a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, followed by a Master’s in Mechatronics. After graduating, I started looking for an engaging job. I soon got into contact with someone at VDL, and after several talks, I got to work. That was 7.5 years ago now.”
In what job did you start out after graduating?
“I started out as a system engineer, a super challenging job, but a lot less wide-ranging than my current job. This role really allowed me to develop, so it was a great first job. In this role, I worked on defects a lot in the past, and that’s when you really learn a lot.”
You say that your current job is more wide-ranging. What exactly does your current job entail?
“As a system architect, you have ultimate technical responsibility for a certain project. This means that you need to see the bigger picture and be able to quickly switch between different roles. One minute I’m overseeing the work of our software engineers and the next I’m off to solve a mechanical problem. It is a very varied job where you need knowledge about everything. Truly going in-depth is rare, because you have colleagues for that who specialise in the various fields.”
What makes your job so much fun?
“The technology and diversity. We are developing a product together with ASML that is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. If you are into technology, this is the place to be, because you won’t find more high-tech gear anywhere else. By diversity I mean that you come into contact with multiple disciplines.”
What are important traits for a system architect?
“You need to be able to keep up with the various disciplines, see the connections and understand them. Aside from that, you also need more management skills than an engineer, for example. Although I don’t consider myself a true leader, I have learnt to manage people.”
How have you grown in your job?
“When I started out here, I couldn’t do the things I can do now, I have really grown in my role. Little by little, you add to your engineering knowledge and get better at getting people to sing from the same hymn sheet. Sure, you have to work hard for it, it didn’t just fall into my lap either. The way I see it, VDL is not a company that offers training and courses left, right, and centre. But if you clearly state an interest in pursuing personal development in certain areas, they will help you, but you do have to show initiative first.”
What makes VDL ETG T&D a great company to work for?
“We are a bit of an outsider within VDL Groep. Where VDL companies generally focus on manufacturing things, we can be seen as the development unit. I therefore have a lot of colleagues who basically have the same passions as I do, and that’s great. And it is, of course, also great to see the product you have been working on. I regularly head to the factory for a peek!