career story Henk van de Weijer Eindhoven
There are always options, even if you think" this is impossible "
With this attitude as a starting point, Henk van de Weijer, Lead Engineer at ACE, approaches every project. A story about making choices, possibilities and trains. Taking apart, put together and apart again. Tinkering with cars. Henk was happy with it for hours. Even then it fascinated Henk how a machine works and how it is built. Not surprising that when he was a little older he went to study Mechanical Engineering at the Fontys in Eindhoven. A period in which he was allowed to research the many aspects of the profession. "Actually, it came down to that you should approach each problem, each assignment from as many perspectives as possible and divide it into components. This way you arrive at creative solutions. And there are always options. Even if you think "this is impossible".
not always the same thing
Having just finished his studies, Henk immediately starts working as a constructor at an engineering firm where he puts what he has learned into practice. Various projects are reviewed. After nine years it is time for another employer. Henk can start anywhere with his CV, but what does he want? "I really had to start thinking about how I wanted to develop myself further." Ultimately, there were two potential employers left; a company that was very specifically focused on packaging and ACE. "I immediately had a good feeling at ACE. It is accessible and it is an organization with many different clients. This, plus the fact that the other company was focused on a niche industry, was the deciding factor."
The image that Henk had of ACE as his first impression is more than true. "It is very pleasant to work here and I get all kinds of opportunities to develop myself constantly. In the beginning I wanted to get back into technology and not start as a lead engineer. If you indicate this, something will be done with it. After a few short projects, Henk was asked to consider working as a lead engineer for a project at the NS Treinmodernisation (NSTM) in Haarlem. "The nice thing about ACE is that you still get a lot of support to grow in the role of lead engineer." Henk explains that he is still offered all kinds of courses, such as communication training, project management and FEM training. But perhaps even more important than the courses is the corporate culture at ACE. "The fact that you can take those courses says something about ACE's attitude. You do it together and help each other where necessary. I like that.'
The fact that Henk is now working on a project at NSTM is a nice combination of coincidences. "I'm a bit of a train freak," Henk readily admits. "I have been collecting and building model trains since I was 10 years old. In my attic I have 12 m2 of track and 100 trains. In order to build it properly, I also find out about the process around it. How does that work with signal switches and the like. I want it to be realistic. "
At NSTM, Henk can indulge himself with real equipment. When trains have been in service for fifteen years, it is time for major maintenance. Henk deals with the electromechanical side of maintenance. "You have to imagine that the wagons are completely stripped, only the carcass remains. My task is to give 60 km of cable per carriage a new place in the limited space that is available. Each type of cable has different requirements and the cables in one wagon must also be connected to the other wagons. So quite a puzzle! "
Henk does this puzzling 2 days a week on location at NSTM and 3 days in Eindhoven at the ACE office. In doing so, he directs two colleagues. "The production area is in Haarlem, so I can check my designs in 3D here. These are also days when I talk a lot with colleagues and when ad hoc things happen. On these days I also visit the production area much more often. "
more than just work
At the ACE office, Henk has more space to work things out; make quotations, discuss progress with colleagues and also check whether everyone is still on the same page. "I really enjoy not being on location with the customer every day, but keeping the base in Eindhoven. This keeps me feeling connected to ACE, which is important to me. "Whenever possible, Henk always participates in the activities that ACE organizes besides work. "During bowling or barbecuing you get to know your colleagues in a different way than just in the work situation. As a result, I sometimes better understand the choices and behavior of colleagues in the workplace. I find these moments of contact valuable. "
Although Henk sometimes misses going in-depth in technology in his role as lead engineer, he wants to continue in this position. "In five to ten years' time I want to manage a larger team. I have found that in this role I can lead the creative process in such a way that I am not always visibly above it. We do it together and at crucial moments I will have to steer and make choices based on my role. Sometimes it is necessary to have my paws in the mud. I think you should keep in touch with practice. In that sense, you can shape your role yourself, depending on the project. "In that respect, it also applies here: at ACE there are always possibilities.