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At Pauwels Consulting, we are continually looking for motivated consultants who are in a position to bring our clients’ projects to a successful conclusion. As a result, we interview lots of candidates and regularly take on interesting new colleagues.
In our series ‘People of Pauwels Consulting’, our colleagues introduce themselves and talk about their projects and experiences. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Robin Stockman, technician at Pauwels Consulting.
Robin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Robin: Of course! My name is Robin Stockman. I am thirty-five years old, married and live in Brussels. We now have one son, but with a little luck, more will follow (laughter). I work as a technician on projects on behalf of Pauwels Consulting.
What do you do in your free time?
Robin: Studying (smiles). I continued with my study for industrial engineer via distance learning at the KAHO Sint-Lieven in Ghent. I completed about three and a half years and still have one and a half year to go. It takes up a lot of time.
Well, good luck! Did you complete any other studies before this one?
Robin: Yes. I have a bachelor in industrial science from the KU Leuven, department Rega.
Why did you choose these studies?
Robin: It was all due to the circumstances I guess… I never really needed to do my best at school until the third grade of the secondary school. That’s where it went wrong: I had to repeat that year, at a different school.
When registering at the new school, I wanted to avoid the subjects for which I failed significantly. This steered me in the direction of industrial science. After that, I also switched to chemistry.
Industrial science at the university college was therefore a logical choice. Unfortunately, all subjects I avoided systematically during secondary school all came back. However, it was fortunate that I was much more motivated at the university college (smiles).
Where have you been working?
Robin: I worked at a large petroleum company for three years. I was involved in research and development for the tyre industry and for the production of olefins from gases.
After that, I joined Pauwels Consulting. This is now ten years ago and since that time I have been working on a variety of projects, mainly for a large pharmaceutical company. I am experienced in product support, laboratory environments and support related to the formulation and preparation of medicines.
Could you tell us about some interesting projects?
Robin: My last project at this pharmaceutical company was immediately the most interesting. It involved the implementation and validation of a new filling line.
I was able to follow the complete project from the start up to the end: as from the selection and processing of raw materials up to the validation of freeze-dryers and the further development of test programmes.
Also, I was able to follow up on the final step, being the audit preparations for the Food and Drug Administration and other verification bodies. The FDA is a renowned world player. Other countries will often follow the example set by the American market.
How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting and what was your first impression?
Robin: Due to the reorganisation at the large petroleum company I was working for, I was kindly asked to start looking for other employment. The company did have another position for me, but the location was at a considerable distance from my home.
I thus started looking for another challenge and placed my CV on various job sites. At the time I was contacted by Pauwels Consulting, I had three ongoing applications. This was the reason why I did not react immediately. In the end, the Pauwels recruiter convinced me to come and visit.
After that, all moved rapidly. An appointment at the client was planned, which is when I was introduced to Van Nguyen, who is now operations director and partner at Pauwels Consulting. He motivated me by means of a short speech, after which we set off to the interview. It took only fifteen minutes before it was decided that the job was mine. Van has a crystal clear coaching talent (laughter)!
“We have now grown from 40 to over 490 employees. That is something to be proud of. Like the American dream, only now in Belgium.”
In the meantime, ten years have passed?
Robin: Indeed it has. When I started working for Pauwels Consulting, the company was actually not that big. I was given good conditions, but had no real idea of what I could or should expect. I remember clearly that Bert Pauwels, founder and general manager at Pauwels Consulting, described the company as ‘one big family’ when I met him to sign the contract. And yes, it was pleasant.
Since that time, the family did increase significantly.
Robin: You’re not joking (smiles). I have witnessed all Pauwels takeovers. During the first takeover, I remember thinking: “My my, will this end well?” After that, you see the Trends Gazelle awards making note.
We have now grown from 40 to over 490 employees. That is something to be proud of. Like the American dream, only now in Belgium.
Could you tell us more about your current projects in the pharmaceutical industry?
Robin: The pharmaceutical company I am currently working for is expanding on a serious scale. Quite many new products are added to the portfolio. They also seriously invest in development, including a real project laboratory. This laboratory has the required capacity to produce an adequate number of samples for clinical studies, mainly for upscaling.
At this time, I am supporting the implementation of a syringes line. The intention is to make a copy of an already existing line. We have now reached the validation phase, so normally, we just have to finalise the project. However, from experience we know that this phase is never a phase in which we ‘just have to finalise’ the project (laughter).
What’s the objective of your current projects?
Robin: The objective is to centralise all syringes from a specific presentation at the Belgian registered office of the company, in order to produce all these volumes and products there at a later stage.
What are your responsibilities during this project?
Robin: I am mainly responsible for the further development of the work documents. The responsible engineer formulates a test protocol and I stipulate how and where the samples must be taken. It must sketch a vision of the effective flow of the complete process.
It is required that extensive information is registered in these documents: the date or time of the sample taking, the confirmation that this was indeed processed as stated, etc. This is what pharmacy is all about: it is an administrative paper chase.
The authorities treat anything not registered as non-existing or not implemented. However, this regulation ensures that all processes are safe, hygienic and responsible.
What are the timelines of the project?
Robin: The timelines of this type of projects always shift. In fact, the main objective in this regard is that the project must always be completed ‘as soon as possible’.
The previous project’s deadline was ‘asap’ as well, but did encounter a delay. This, of course, holds the risk that a shortage on the market will be the result, whereby the market could choose another product. Alternatively, it could also result in face loss. Thank goodness that did not happen.
What does a standard workday look like for you?
Robin: Actually, I do not have standard workdays. At times, I could be working on my computer for an entire week. At times, I am constantly on the road and cover miles and miles to obtain signatures for documents. At times, I follow up on measurements assembled by the laboratory. At times, batches are filled, whereby monitoring the line is imperative. At times, I could work during the night, in the evening or even very early in the morning. It takes a little bit of everything to make the world go round… (smiles).
What is challenging or interesting about this type of projects?
Robin: The best part of my job is that I am given time and space to profile myself. At times, we need to process very large data sets. Through the years, I increasingly started to profile myself as an Excel and Minitab expert.
What it comes down to in the end is that you get the job done. However, if you realise that you will be given the same extensive job in Excel again and again, you will find means to work better and faster. An example thereof is Visual Basic. This programme is excellently suited to handle repetitive tasks in a minimum of time.
Which general tips would you like to give colleagues who work on comparable projects?
Robin: If a specific task is not within your expertise, don’t hesitate to make this known. Life is so much easier if you have fun working. Try do develop, if this is what you want. Always remember that the best assumption is that an employer does not expect anything else from you other than trying to develop yourself.
Inform people working around you on your skills. The more people know about your skills, the more opportunities arise for you to be given tasks you ultimately enjoy doing.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
What would you like to do once this project is completed? What are your ambitions for the future?
Robin: I am currently in the process of finalising my projects. Most of my time and effort is dedicated to my study. After I complete my study, a whole new chapter will evolve. At that time, I would like to be in a position as an engineer. After that, the future is open.
Is there any other wisdom you wish to share or perhaps an inspiring citation?
Robin: I couldn’t express it any better than Bert Pauwels himself and originally expressed by Norman Vincent Peale:
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Well spoken, Robin! Thank you for the interview and here’s wishing you success with your projects!
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