S What attracted you to GEA?
I had been working as a fluid mechanics specialist and wanted to combine that with more of a management role. GEA gave me the opportunity to lead a team from the beginning and thereby develop my leadership skills. In my new role, I now have the chance not only to grow my leadership skills but also to extend my knowledge to new, diverse topics. This gives me a broader scope of expertise and I learn new, interesting things every day!
S What is your current role at GEA?
I am responsible for a department of roughly 60 persons. Innovations and pilot scale drying tests are our two main responsibilities. Our R&D teams aim is to keep GEA in the lead regarding drying technologies through both break-through and incremental innovations. In our test centers, we analyze our customer’s feed samples to asses and optimize drying methodologies for their specific products.
Our innovation deliverables are driven by our strategic development projects. They fill our innovation pipeline and we use a stage gate model to execute them. But we are improving this setup: to fill the innovation pipeline and at the same time focus and boost the number of new innovations we are currently implementing a process for our front end innovation (FEI). A high performing and easy-to-use FEI process is essential to enable our R&D teams to react on opportunities and new ideas whilst still driving the strategic developments.
S What do like about working at GEA?
Although my former employers offered me interesting and rewarding tasks, the value GEA offers to me as an employee appears much more complete. I am impressed by how people take pride in their work and tend to stay with the company for a long time.
S What do you enjoy most about your job?
The fact that we facilitate R&D projects from the idea to the market. Shaping the idea, optimizing it and developing it into a real, innovative product that adds value to the customer really gives you the possibility to make an impact and leave a fingerprint. Seeing the fruit of your labour in form of a product that is launched to market gives you something to be proud of.
S What are the main challenges?
Prioritizing the work that we do and selecting the right things to develop. Although this is not entirely our decision, since the developments are driven by sales, we are able to propose and recommend developments for the future.
S What are your ambitions for the future?
I have two main aims: one is to boost the innovation culture in my organization and the other is to bring R&D even closer to the business. We have come a long way, but there are still some steps to take. Also, I would like us to improve the handover of our developments to the sales department. It would be of great benefit if we could not only give them a finished product, but also everything around the product that is necessary to bring it to the market successfully.