After studying Environmental Science at Wageningen University, a doctorate from Eindhoven University of Technology, a successful career at TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), system architect Gerrit Oosterhuis (41) wanted to deepen his knowledge of technology and focus more on practice rather than theory. “The great thing about working at VDL ETG is that it is all about combining state-of-the-art technology with manufacturing knowledge. I think that VDL Groep is one of very few multinationals in the region that can hold its own on the highest level, and that makes us truly unique,” says Gerrit. At VDL ETG, we contribute to the development of high-tech equipment for computer chips, fighting diseases, researching the universe, and understanding the details of cells and molecules. We do that for various international customers in the semiconductor, analytics, science, solar, LED, medical, and aerospace industries. “It is great fun to make beautiful things,” says Gerrit.
What jobs have you had at VDL?
“I started out as a system architect, and was immediately involved in all kinds of development projects. Aside from that, I set up a new 3D metal printing technology programme from scratch, with the purpose to analyse together with our customers how to use this kind of technology in a semiconductor environment. After roughly 3 years, I transferred to VDL ETG in the US. That’s where I, drawing on my background in technology, focused on creating new business. We had a small team of 6 to 8 people there, which meant that you needed broad technical knowledge and as had to to deal with all kinds of different questions: can we do this and do we want to do this? And how do we sell this prototype to the customer in a clever way? It was very challenging, since working with a start-up requires an entirely different mindset than working with an established multinational! Customer contact and soft skills are hugely important in that context. After my return from the US, I increasingly focused on new business for existing and new customers, which requires a certain way of working and lots of flexibility. I also work on technology roadmapping; how can we improve our knowledge and technology to help customers perform even better?”
What makes your job so interesting?
“The best thing about my job is that you get a chance to come up with something entirely new time and time again. And I also find the human aspect very interesting. Customers also make decisions based on the relationship and emotion, and so I try to tap into that as best as possible. On top of that, what I enjoy very much is making beautiful things, creating something magical. VDL is down to earth and also human. Besides that, we are critical in choosing what we invest in. We invest in things that really matter. You always keep a strong link to the practical side of things ; it is very hard to do all your work from behind a computer here. You will often find me walking around the factory and talking to colleagues there, who have a very different perspective on things. That makes it fun! I relish the technical complexity and depth I find in my work here. We have a huge variety of specialists working here with whom you can liaise, which is truly unique. And whenever necessary, we step up our efforts even more, drawing on our unrivalled ability to get things done. Whenever an attractive opportunity arises, VDL has the capability and size to be able to scale up to enable the customer to be successful. And finally, I look back on my time as an expat in the US as a very special period, where I discovered a new culture and got excellent support from VDL, both for myself and for my family.”
What do you consider important in your job?
"As soon as you have reached a certain level of seniority, the opportunities soon present themselves. Initiative is also greatly appreciated, which rather suits me. Aside from that, freedom of choice is also important to me, the freedom to discover what is right for me. It is furthermore important to me to be able to pursue personal entrepreneurship, and there are plenty of opportunities to do that here.”