Pauwels people

Mother Rita & daughter Zenzi choose Pauwels Consulting

02 Jun 2020
In our series 'Pauwels People' we talk with our consultants about life as a consultant, working for Pauwels Consulting and our clients. Today we speak to mother Rita & daughter Zenzi who both work as Life Sciences consultants, a family unique for Pauwels Consulting! Zenzi works at J&J as Microbiology Expert Support and Rita works in Switzerland as Senior Project Manager.

Hi Rita & Zenzi, can you introduce yourselves?

Rita: Sure, together with my husband Patrick, I’m a proud parent of Zenzi, Egon & Reina. I got my Master’s degree in Electromechanical Engineering in 1989. I have a knack for languages (French, English, German, Spanish,…) and love to travel and work in Asia and Europe. I have been lucky in the sense that since my first job as a Project Engineer at Air products, I had the opportunity to regularly go on business trips to e.g. England, Scotland, Italy, France & the Netherlands.

Zenzi Renard & Rita CrapsI became acquainted with Pauwels Consulting during my projects at various pharmaceutical companies. I knew that it was a partner for strengthening a project team with people who have specific knowledge within validation, quality control and quality assurance. By now, these areas of expertise have grown. At the moment, I have been working in the pharmaceutical & biotechnological sector for about 15 years and I have already gained a lot of technical knowledge.

I have a real passion for “beauty, perfection, quality, uniqueness, authenticity & learning”. I highly value these concepts and always work in a result-oriented way in order to achieve one or more, at and off work.

Zenzi: Hi, I am Rita’s daughter 🙂 and obtained my Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at KU Leuven in 2017. Shortly after, I started my career as a Project Coordinator at Medpace Reference Laboratories, where they conduct clinical research. This job taught me a lot about planning, deadlines and clear communication. Since my start at Pauwels Consulting in 2019, I also work as a Life Sciences consultant.

Which projects do you currently work on?

Rita: Since August 2018, I work in Switzerland at a big pharmaceutical company as Project Manager Engineering for the Greenfield Project: “Next Generation Manufacturing Facility”. We’re building a new bio-manufacturing Cell according to a modular design with an optimized output. Very exciting. I’m having a great time here and recently, my team grew with a new Pauwels colleague, so that’s nice :).

Zenzi: I started my first project at J&J as Microbiology Expert Support in the DPDS Microbiology department. Here, I mainly work on the testing methods of microbial purity of medication in production and the transfer of these methods to all sites.

Was a foreign project always on your ‘career to-do list’, Rita?

Rita: Due to my previous experiences abroad, I was not specifically looking for a new foreign project, but the combination of the assignment and the Swiss challenge was the deciding factor for me to leap once again :).

Zenzi, you’ve heard a lot of stories from your mum, did you think you would apply here?

Zenzi: Not right away, we both knew we were in contact with Pauwels Consulting, but each in our own way. My mum chose Pauwels Consulting because the Swiss project seemed like a great challenge for her to carry out. I chose Pauwels Consulting because of the variety of assignments at different clients I could do and the atmosphere.

Actually, when I applied, I didn’t say anything about the fact that my mum already worked here. It’s only later on, that I mentioned it to my account manager Jelle Vandemenschbrugge, who of course, was very surprised but quickly reacted positively and spread the good news :).

“Don’t think, but reflect on it”

Would a foreign experience also appeal to you, Zenzi?

Zenzi: I’m definitely open to the possibility! My career is still in its infancy and I still have a lot to learn. If there were a professional opportunity, geographical borders would certainly not stop me!


What makes a project interesting?

Rita: A fascinating project is one in which I can make choices and take responsibility, but still keep the balance between applying my current experience and acquiring new knowledge. I can certainly find that balance in this project and that makes working at Pauwels Consulting great.

Zenzi: A job is interesting to me if I can learn a lot professionally. I like a challenge! That means that I like to face a problem that I can sink my teeth into, understand how the problem arose and come to a solution. This is, of course, best when you are surrounded by experienced and intelligent colleagues :). And there is no shortage of that at Pauwels Consulting and J&J!

That is certainly true! By the way, how is the collaboration with Sofie, your fellow Pauwels Consulting colleague?

Zenzi: We have a pleasant and smooth collaboration. Hopefully, she feels the same way 😉 (laughs). Sofie is a friendly and intelligent woman, she has a lot of experience and explains everything very clearly to me. I’m learning a lot at the moment! We can also chat about all sorts of things, which makes for fun relaxation during lunch breaks.

What do you like about working for Pauwels Consulting and its clients?

Rita: Working as a consultant at Pauwels Consulting gives me the opportunity to choose the assignments where I can apply my experience, but still offer me enough challenge and where I keep learning!

“You yourself are at the proverbial wheel of your career”

Zenzi: For me, the atmosphere at Pauwels Consulting was decisive. Of course, I had heard many stories from my mum but as a scientist, I always think: “first seeing, then believing”. My first contact was with Valentijn Velghe, a recruitment consultant, who welcomed me very warmly. He conveys the open, honest and supportive culture of Pauwels Consulting very well.

In addition, later on, I was well received by Sofie and Junior, who also works at J&J. Every month, we have lunch with all J&J – Pauwels Consulting colleagues to keep in touch, because we work across different departments. I think it’s a great initiative!

At J&J, I really enjoy working with all my colleagues, including the employees of J&J, which is not unimportant to me! I can easily get in touch with anyone with my questions, so I can learn a lot quickly.

Would you like to work together once and would that go well, you think? 🙂

Zenzi: Sure! I think I can also learn a lot from my mum. I’m curious about our interaction on a professional level… Would our bond change anything or not? We know each other through and through, much better than average colleagues, the small gestures and unique traits, the things to which we attach importance,… Actually, I suspect that just like at home, we would make a good team professionally and complement each other very well.

Rita: I would certainly like to collaborate with Zenzi provided that her way of working is a good fit with mine. We are both result-oriented, focused on what needs to be done with respect for the agreements made and this in the most efficient way. Moreover, we could perhaps challenge each other about certain methodologies or the plan of approach. That would certainly make the collaboration interesting!

Zenzi, do you think your mom could learn something from you?

Zenzi: Hah, the question we should probably ask is: What can’t I learn from my mom? (laughs). Sorry for the cliché, but my mom truly is my heroine! A woman of great ability, knowledge and experience. I wouldn’t know where to start to teach her :). I’m very proud to say that Rita is my mom!

Some wise words from my childhood that I learned from, guess who, my mom, might be applicable here… “Don’t think, but reflect on it.” Always look at the situation from multiple perspectives, don’t jump to a certain conclusion without having all the information.

Rita, do you have any advice for Zenzi and starters like her?

Rita: Advice for starters hmmm… Don’t forget, you’re at the proverbial helm of your career. Your vision and insights determine your own growth, not only professionally but also personally. Moreover, you are not alone on this journey!

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Maxime van Belle Content Marketeer

Pauwels people

Working as a Commissioning E&I Engineer

20 May 2020
In our Pauwels People series, we talk to our consultants about their experience as a consultant, working for Pauwels Consulting and their projects. Today, we're talking to Paul Vander Schelden, who worked as a Project Engineer at several companies and was a Commissioning E&I Engineer for Fluxys to help build a tank in the LNG Terminal. Now, Paul is retired and is making the most of his free time!

Can you introduce yourself briefly?

Hi, I’m Paul Vander Schelden, I graduated in 1979 as an industrial engineer electricity option control technology. Married and proud father of two beautiful sons. Throughout my career, I have always been interested in technical installations in terms of maintenance and supervising projects.

paul vander schelden commissioning engineer

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In addition to being a master in repairing (patching up) most things, I like walking, cycling, gardening, skiing, traveling, dancing, filming snorkeling, diving and recently, I’ve picked up reading as well!

Can you tell us a bit more about your studies & professional background?

Sure, the interest in electricity and electromechanics was ‘taught’ to me by my brother-in-law who took the time to explain to me how things work, accurately but simple. Add to that the fact that during high school my two favourite subjects were mathematics & physics and that I was fascinated by the ‘invisible’. So, the choice for Industrial Engineer Electromechanics was easy!

After my military service (yes, that still existed then! :)), I started working as an automation engineer at Honeywell in the Process Automation Center Europe in Evere. After this first experience, I began my job at Shell as Maintenance Manager Electricity. This meant that I was responsible for the instrumentation & automation of the entire site with a refinery, chemical & oil plants, power production, high-voltage cabins, fuel storage,… In addition, they also counted on me for the start-up of new installations. At Shell, I gained a lot of knowledge and was able to follow many training courses: Atex, AREI, preventive maintenance, steam techniques, flow measurements and mass flow meters, flame detection, ISO 9001,… This made me into the Engineer that I am now.

At Shell, I climbed the corporate ladder and was promoted to Project, Maintenance & Purchase manager under the joint venture Shell / Exxon; Here, I was project owner of stand-alone realisations such as the maintenance warehouse, steam generators, compressed air compressors, altering the tank park in accordance with Vlarem regulations, engineering and building a crums mill, etc. Unfortunately, the site was closed after three years due to overcapacity within the group. After that, I worked at EOC, Sicpa and Veurne Snack Foods (part of PepsiCo). At the latter, I had to switch assignments, and I had to go abroad a lot. This was too hard for me and not in line with what I really wanted to do.

How did you come into contact with Pauwels Consulting?

After my adventures at Sicpa, EOC and PepsiCo, I wanted to return to the world of engineering and construction in the (petro)chemical & energy sector where my roots lay. I was then contacted for the construction of a Fluxys natural gas compression station. They were urgently looking for a Supervisor Electricity, Instrumentation & Automation to oversee the construction of the compressor station.

Fluxys teamThe application went very smoothly. I had an instant connection with Jan Fyens, Business Unit Director Engineering and the Fluxys Project Manager. Spontaneous, open and with mutual respect. I knew right away that it wouldn’t be an easy assignment, as the project was already well advanced, but the team spirit was vibrant so I took the plunge!

Can you tell us more about your projects at Pauwels Consulting?

I would like to tell you a bit more about my favourite and most difficult project that I carried out, and the lessons I learned from them. My favourite project is the first project I carried out, mentioned above, Supervisor for the natural gas compression station. From greenfield to startup. The nice thing was that I was able to go through all facets of the project: evaluation of the engineering documents, reviewing the scope, mechanical completion, commissioning, the punch list, checking the manufacturing record book, drawing up and following up the readiness for start-up issues, completing the Vlarem declaration, and so on.

I got to know the full functionality of the station and helped solve issues that went wrong. There was an excellent team spirit between the client and the contractors that was clearly perceptible. I felt that my presence truly had added value and I received a lot of appreciation for my work. That gave me an enormous boost!

The most difficult project I ever did, was engineering a 400kV DC connection between England and Zeebrugge. There was a tangled project structure that made it difficult to communicate in general and to inform the stakeholders. As a logical consequence, the team spirit was less good and it was more difficult to get things done.

Both projects who stand opposite to one another, have as a common thread the communication that played a decisive role. From this I learned that transparent communication and collaboration are crucial for the proper execution of the project: who is responsible for what, how can I contribute, where can I find the right documents, who can I address about certain topics… It brings unnecessary stress which sometimes leads to mistakes and it influences the will to finish a project.

What did an average day look like for you?

Oh, let’s see. I always started the day by greeting my nearest colleagues. After that, I reviewed my priorities for the day by looking at what needed to be addressed urgently and if there were any questions from my supervisors. I then opened my mailbox to answer the emails that I could be answered directly. A quick clean-up.

This was followed by a check for scheduled meetings: what is my to-do list and do I still need to prepare for tasks/questions? After the meetings, I would finish what I started that morning. If there was any time left, I performed other routine tasks. A busy day as you can see but I did take the time to socialize, shortly before work, during a coffee break or lunch. It is very important to do this, sometimes you can detect issues early on or resolve disagreements but above all, you can quickly integrate yourself as a consultant into an existing team!

What good advice can you give to starters?

Do what you promise, don’t be afraid to say if you can’t do something and ask for an explanation or help when you’re stuck! There is no shame in that! Everyone experiences it and learning is a continuous process. In addition, it is important to understand the project structure as soon as possible and to establish contacts with your team. Don’t be the solo player! Clear communication with your manager is important, give as correct and honest answers as possible to his/her questions.

Solid advice Paul! We wish you a super and well-deserved retirement! Do you already know how you are going to fill your time?

Thanks! Actually, I don’t (laughs), it will be a bit of a slow start because of the coronavirus but I hope I can fill my time usefully!

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Maxime van Belle Content Marketeer

Pauwels people

Working as a Full Stack Developer – Sam Apostel

17 Apr 2020
In our series 'Pauwels people' we talk with our people about life as a consultant, their projects and working for Pauwels Consulting & our clients. Today, we're meeting Sam Apostel, Full Stack Developer at Pauwels Consulting & Cock's Vleeswaren. Sam loves extreme sports en would like to start his own business one day!

Sam Apostel full stack developerHow long have you been working for Pauwels Consulting?

I just joined Pauwels as a Full Stack Developer about two months ago, my first day was on February 5th.

Why did you choose to work for Pauwels Consulting?

I had several job offers I could choose from and I found the Pauwels offer the most attractive. Both the job content and the team at Cock’s Vleeswaren were appealing to me. I had smooth and pleasant contact with Inez and Bram and thanks to their fast action, I was able to sign my contract 4 days after my first phone call with Inez. Since both my parents have experience in consultancy, I was already familiar with the consultancy concept and taking on a consultancy job myself was quite a logical step.

In which IT domain do you work?

Full-stack development.

On what project are you currently working?

I am developing both for front end (React) & back end (PHP). We are building a portal for clients and suppliers of Cock’s Vleeswaren, a meat processing company in Sint-Niklaas. The functionalities we are working on are e.g. showing fact sheets, sending invoices, launching campaigns, registering orders.

What kind of projects would you like to do in the future, where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I want to develop myself further in the domain of IT development, preferably within the context of a start-ups or scale-up. I’m also thinking about setting up a small company in brand development, as a secondary occupation.

What are your favourite IT tools/sources/…?

  •, a website for designers of user interfaces
  • Meetups, in particular, those of the Full Stack Antwerp group
  • self-built frameworks

Full-stack developer Sam ApostelWhat are your hobbies & interests?

I’m very fond of all kinds of (extreme) sports: climbing, sailing, skiing, biking. When biking, also to get to work, I usually listen to podcasts. I am a fan of the podcasts from Universiteit Vlaanderen and Nerdland (Lieven Scheire).

What is your favourite quote or dish or film or…?

I am a big fan of Marvel movies!

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Pauwels people

Working as a Remediation Consultant: Sophie Clauwers

08 Apr 2020
In our series Pauwels People, our colleagues introduce themselves and talk about their projects and experiences. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Sofie Clauwers, Remediation Consultant at Pauwels Consulting.

Sofie, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sofie: Of course! My name is Sofie Clauwers and I am forty years old. It was eleven years ago that I married my darling husband Stephan. Three and a half years ago, we decided to leave the vicinity of Brussels and relocate to the Antwerp Campine, where we enjoy nature and the quietness.

What do you do in your free time?

Sofie: I find cooking and a healthy lifestyle challenging and interesting. This is also one of the reasons why I visit the gym regularly. Stephan and I enjoy walking and cycling if the weather permits this. Every now and then, we also try to discover a small area of our world, to enjoy nature as well as culture.

What studies did you complete and where did you graduate?

Sofie: I studied pharmaceutical and biological techniques at the Erasmus University College Brussels.

Where have you been working?

Sofie: I worked at the KU Leuven for twelve years, as well as at the Vlaams Centrum voor Bewaring van Tuinbouwproducten (VCBT, Flanders Centre of Postharvest Technology). At the KUL, I worked in the laboratory and assisted doctoral students with implementing their practical work. My tasks involved the development of HPLC methods as the implementation of routine laboratory tests. As such, I taught laboratory techniques to many international students. At the VCBT, we mainly researched how to extend the preservation of Belgian fruit and vegetables and how to avoid diseases.

People of Pauwels Consulting - Sofie Clauwers - Remediation Consultant

How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?

Sofie: My job at the KUL/VCBT was no longer as challenging as I wanted it to be. I had no career opportunities and there were no other jobs or tasks available for me. That’s why I decided to post my CV online and to look for a new challenging position. Only shortly after I was contacted by a Pauwels Consulting recruiter.

“My conversation with the Pauwels Consulting recruiter was surprising, to the point and professional.”

What was your first impression?

Sofie: It was my very first contact with a consultancy company. I must admit, I did not know much about consulting at that time, except that consultants were often recruited for short projects in the IT world. My conversation with the Pauwels Consulting recruiter was surprising, to the point and professional.

That telephone conversation was the start of my next career. (Smiles.) I have been working at Pauwels Consulting as a Remediation Consultant since 2011. It goes without saying that a lot has changed since then. Pauwels Consulting was already a fast-growing company, but through the years it has become much larger.

Could you tell us more about your current projects?

Sofie: My first assignment at Pauwels Consulting was at a quality laboratory of a large pharmaceutical company. I participated in checking the quality of the medicines which were to be introduced on the market. My next assignment was in 2013, at a different large pharmaceutical company. It was my task to properly go through the ‘compendial updates’. After all, for the analysis of most raw materials and medicines, ‘pharmacopoeias’, official government manuals with directions, describe how and which quality tests must be implemented.

These tests can be updated if a different method, device or reference material must be used. If such updates had an impact on our international products or techniques, I would inform the relevant persons as well. I also had the opportunity to participate in adjusting or creating internal specifications. After one year, the regulations and company structure were changed somewhat for external employees. This resulted in a new assignment for me: a remediation project. I have been working as a team leader on this project for two years now, together with two other colleagues.

What is the objective of this remediation project?

Sofie: The objective of the remediation project is to ensure that all international sites of the company deliver the exact same quality and that the products are also subjected to the same quality tests. Moreover, each country has its own guidelines and requirements which we must include. We recently completed our mission in a number of large Asian countries and just started a mission in South America.

What are your responsibilities during the remediation project?

Sofie: Each product has a ‘technical owner’. My two colleagues and I assist this owner in the remediation project. We meet and discuss which actions must be taken. At a later time, these actions will be described in a ‘change of control’ document. Each site and each external partner who is only slightly involved must submit an assessment, including the required activities to implement the changes, on a laboratory level as well as on a registration level.

Once the ‘change of control’ document is completed and approved, we follow up on the activities. This could involve having new methods developed, adjusting specifications, transferring methods and ensuring that the other sites qualify for these new methods up to and including ensuring that certain documents are created and registered… We also issue reports regularly. At that time, we discuss possible issues and explore how these could be solved.

What is challenging about this type of projects?

Sofie: I find it challenging and interesting to come into contact with so many different cultures. Making arrangements, specifically with regard to the timelines, could prove to be quite a challenge for example. We were even given training about holding meetings with other cultures and on cultural differences.

In the meantime, new regulations have again been introduced to my current principal. Because of these new regulations, I work on-site only one single day per week, which is applicable since the month of July.

Have you learned interesting things up to now at your current principal?

Sofie: At first instance, I was quite amazed about how large and spectacular my principal is and about the many differences between the various sites. Also, on a registration level, there are a lot of guidelines that differ per country. This makes everything even more complex. But, in itself, this is exactly what makes it a very interesting challenge.

“I find it challenging and interesting to come into contact with so many different cultures. Making arrangements, specifically with regard to the timelines, could prove to be quite a challenge for example.”

What would you like to do once this project is completed? What are your ambitions for the future?

Sofie: I trust I can work on this project for the coming years. What I would like to do after this project? Actually, the thought never even crossed my mind. I am very open-minded and always eager to learn more. However, I would like to continue in an administrative job and would not prefer to return to the laboratory.

In fact, I would just like an interesting job in which I can actually contribute. My husband could also be retiring in five years’ time and we are thinking about spending the winters in a warmer climate.

Is there any other wisdom you wish to share or perhaps an inspiring citation?

Sofie: Since I turned forty last month and lost my mother two years ago, I feel it is even more important to consciously enjoy, together with my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I also love to enjoy life to the fullest after my working hours! My message to others would be: consciously enjoy what you have as much as possible.

A beautiful conclusion, Sofie. Thank you for the interview and here’s wishing you success with your projects!

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Maxime van Belle Content Marketeer

Pauwels people

Dax Lauwers is helping develop an HIV test for the HIV vaccine

30 Mar 2020
In our series 'Pauwels people' we talk with our consultants about life as a consultant, working for Pauwels Consulting and our clients. Today, we talk to Dax Lauwers, life sciences consultant and R&D scientist at Johnson & Johnson. Over the past few months, he has been involved in the development of an accurate HIV test which would make the approval of the HIV vaccine easier.

Can you introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Dax Lauwers, I’m 23 years old and I live together with my girlfriend in Antwerp. I am a Life Sciences consultant at Pauwels Consulting and I’m currently working on my first project as an R&D scientist at J&J.

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend a lot of my free time on the rugby field as a trainer for the 12 to 14-year-olds and as a player. This is the ideal way for me to clear my head again. Some quality time with my girlfriend or a game night with friends or family is also something I can enjoy immensely.

What did you study?

My highest degree is a professional bachelor in biochemistry. I obtained this at AP-Hogeschool in Antwerp. Before that, I followed a Technical Secondary Education in Chemistry because science has always been a passion for me!

Can you tell us more about the HIV vaccine and your HIV test?

The HIV vaccine that J&J is developing is now in phase 3. In this phase, it will be assessed whether the vaccine effectively protects against the virus. This means that a certain ‘risk group’ is vaccinated and we check whether this has an effect on the number of HIV infections in this group. However, there is an issue with the vaccine. People who are vaccinated have to deal with ‘vaccine induced seropositivity’ (VISP). This means that current serological HIV testing is unable to distinguish between an HIV-infected and a vaccinated person. With a PCR test, this is still possible, but it is expensive and not universally available (electricity required, expensive equipment and reagents,…).

The goal of our team is to develop a highly sensitive serological HIV test, as sensitive as the current tests, that is capable of distinguishing the vaccinated individuals from the infected ones. We do this by looking for specific antibodies induced by the virus, but not by the vaccine.

Within the research department, we are a small team of 2 people, but besides us, there are many other people we work with to get this done. This is an important task because without this new test there is a big chance that the vaccine will be used much less, once it is approved by the different authorities.

What does an average workday look like for you?

I spend most of the day in the lab producing new data. What does that mean concretely? I prepare the experiments, oversee the execution and process and analyse the data. Later on, the data is then visualised in graphs and I discuss the results with the project leader.

If I still have time left, I document the experiments meticulously.

What exactly does such an experiment entail? 

lifesciences consultancy biotech

We test the reactions to serum, which is a part of the blood that contains the antibodies. We use healthy samples, vaccinated samples as well as HIV-infected samples. We then put our samples, approximately one microliter (0.000,001 L), in several test tubes on a 96-well plate. Next, we add antigens. When the antigens recognize the antibodies, they bind together.

Then we perform a detection step using an enzyme. If the sample reacts to the antigen, this enzyme will cause a blue color reaction when a reagent is added. This way, we can see which antigen triggers a reaction. The aim is to find antigens to which HIV patients react, but vaccinated patients do not. At the moment, we have already found 4 promising antigens. It is sometimes the case, for example, that antigen A shows a reaction on the first 7 samples, but not on the last three and antigen B the other way around. These antigens can then possibly be combined.

“I get a lot of motivation and energy from the feeling that I’m doing something meaningful for the world, and that’s the feeling I have with this project.”

Where do you find enough samples to test?

Initially, we only test about 30 to 40 samples, a number of healthy, infected and vaccinated. If there are really promising signs, we will test a larger sample set e.g. 200 healthy and vaccinated persons and 150 HIV-patients. We will purchase these samples from HIV patients in large ‘biobanks’, while the samples from the vaccinated persons will come from the clinical trials already carried out with the vaccine. The set must, of course, be sufficiently representative, so the more, the better.

Did you run into any issues so far, and if so, how did you deal with them?

We had some difficulties at the beginning of the year. The data was not as desired and there was something that caused a lot of variation during testing. It took some time before we found the cause of the variation and the data was again as desired.

In these times, I always try to stay positive and not let myself be influenced by any stress or frustrations. It’s not because the data is not like we want it to be, that the atmosphere has to suffer ?!

Is there a certain time pressure? 

We are a high priority project and we hope to have a ‘concept’ ready by the end of this year but we do not have a deadline. Preferably, we would like to have a new test on the market before the vaccine is approved.

Once the test is complete, can the vaccine be approved by the FDA?

When our ‘concept’ is ready, it will be passed on to a biotech company that will then decide in which ‘form’ or casing the test will be packaged. E.g. as a pregnancy test or as a lab test.

Once the ‘packaging’ has been determined and the test has been found to be reliable, the FDA and other government agencies can approve it and the new diagnostic product can be produced and rolled out.

How did you come into contact with Pauwels Consulting and what was your first impression?

Dax Lauwers R&D Scientist bij J&JI was actively looking for a new challenge and I had applied for an open position at Pauwels Consulting. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, but a while later, I was contacted again by the same recruiter to inform me that he had found a vacancy that suited me perfectly. And he was right: R&D Scientist at Johnson & Johnson.

They thoroughly informed me about the project, life as a consultant and contract related issues. This gave me the feeling that Pauwels Consulting is a very professional company.

What do you like about these kinds of R&D projects?

I get a lot of motivation and energy from the feeling that I’m doing something meaningful for the world, and that’s the feeling I have with this project.

How do you like the consultancy experience so far?

This is only my first project, but I have a very positive experience as a consultant. The clients welcome you with open arms and I really have the feeling that I play an important role in the team.

What are your ambitions for the future?

After this, I would like to work again on a biochemical or immunological R&D project, so that I can gain more experience.

Do you have good advice for R&D starters?

Yes, you can always learn from your data regardless of whether it is good or bad!

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Maxime van Belle Content Marketeer

Pauwels people

Working in a MSA Technical Compliance team

29 Feb 2020
In our series ‘Pauwels People’, our colleagues introduce themselves and talk about their projects and experiences. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Tom Van Hees, Senior Consultant Engineering Services at Pauwels Consulting.

Hello, Tom. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Of course. I’m Tom Van Hees, I’m thirty-six years old and I live in Zonhoven with my wife and my two daughters Nine and Lore.

What was your education?

I graduated from the Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg (Limburg Catholic University College) as an industrial chemical engineer, with an option for biochemistry.

Why exactly did you choose that course?

I chose industrial engineering because of my interest in technology on the one hand and my interest in medicine and biochemistry on the other. These interests are combined in this course. I also considered it important that an industrial engineering degree would provide a variety of opportunities in the employment market.

What did you do after you graduated?

I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry since 2003. First I worked as a validation engineer at Schering-Plough (now MSD) for nearly five years, then joined Pauwels Consulting in 2008.

How exactly did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?

One of their recruiters contacted me with a number of interesting challenges. One thing led to another and I’ve now been a member of the team for eight years.

What projects have you already implemented on behalf of Pauwels Consulting?

Let me think. First of all, I validated laboratory equipment in Pfizer’s chemical lab. After that, I supported the validation of the logic phase (the control of the software) at Genzyme. I was also project leader for a CIP+ project for the Genzyme site. This was an optimisation project for the clean-in-place processes. I have also been a technical compliance engineer at Janssen Pharmaceutica in Geel and have been the leader and single point of contact (SPOC) of the MSA technical compliance team at that company since last year.

What exactly does the MSA technical compliance team at Janssen Pharmaceutica involve?

Pauwels Consulting introduced an initial ‘managed service agreement (MSA)’ at Janssen Pharmaceutica on 1 July 2015, in the context of the law on the employment of third parties. The aim of the MSA is to centralise the recruitment, administration, training, coaching, evaluation and optimisation of external employees and, thus, to limit the number of contractor companies.

“A good team of enthusiastic and flexible people is the most important factor for a successful MSA.”

What is the benefit of an MSA for Janssen?

Tom: The MSA formula has enabled Janssen Pharmaceutica to outsource a number of tasks. An MSA is a flexible formula in which part of the responsibility with respect to external employees is moved from Janssen Pharmaceutica to Pauwels Consulting. A managed service agreement also gives Janssen Pharmaceutica a better overview of the contractor companies it has. Furthermore, the external employees are now centralised, which reduces costs and provides room to renegotiate contracts.

What is your responsibility within the MSA?

I am responsible for receiving applications, the day-to-day management of the compliance team, planning resources, training and allocating the projects we carry out for Janssen Pharmaceutica. As the single point of contact (SPOC) I, together with Mélodie, am the contact person between Pauwels Consulting and Janssen Pharmaceutica for the MSA. I am the point of contact for the team as well as for the client, which makes communication easier.

Which projects are we involved in?

The content of the projects varies enormously, from very small changes in the area of process equipment to large migration projects (Delta V), renovation projects (Plant 3) and constructing a new data centre store.

Together with my colleagues at Pauwels Consulting, I take care of compliance support during these projects. In addition we also support other processes in the MSA, such as:

  • PSQR: the periodic review of the qualified status of equipment;
  • HAZOP: risk analyses;
  • EHS by design;
  • handling of calibration deviations.

Finally, there is also a group in the MSA that supports the process validation of technical writing and one person who looks after the qualification of laboratory equipment.

What has gone well in the MSA up to now and why was that?

The results of the MSA have mostly been regarded as very good, so it’s generally working well.

And what has gone less well?

Continuity is important in having the MSA run smoothly, but that isn’t evident. Many compliance engineers have left and/or been transferred to another project, which has meant extra loads on the existing team in the areas of efficiency, new training, etc. The shutdown was very busy and hectic as a result.

How will the approach to those aspects that went less well be different in the future?

There will definitely be sufficient manpower available during the next shutdown. As far as continuity is concerned, I shall be taking engagement and motivation into account even more during interviews. I shall also provide more facilities for discussion.

Do you have any tips for successful MSAs, based on your experience?

A good team of enthusiastic and flexible people is the most important factor for a successful MSA. The client and the single point of contact have to come to suitable agreements about the scope of the MSA, the responsibilities, etc. They also have to have clear agreements concerning roles, they must consult sufficiently and monitor good contact with all their clients.

Thank you for the good advice, Tom, and here’s wishing you success with all your projects!

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Pauwels people

From Site Inspector to Project Manager – Danny Germanus

27 Feb 2020
In our series 'Pauwels people' we talk with our consultants about life as a consultant, working for Pauwels Consulting and our clients. Today, we talk to Danny Germanus, Project Manager at Omexom Hochspannung GmbH in Germany. Danny is a passionate engineer with a lot of experience at home and abroad!

Danny, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m Danny Germanus, Project Manager at Pauwels Consulting. After my education in electricity & mathematics, I worked as a site manager for an installer of electrical installations for six years. This installer was specialized in placing lighting for large lighting projects. Later on, I worked as a project site manager for the same installer. At the time, I mainly worked on the biggest lighting projects where we installed medium voltage cabins to provide SME’s with a power supply and a general low voltage board.

Have you always worked for the same company?

No, in between these functions, I worked for another company for about 5 years as a technical service manager, responsible for the technical department. I was in charge of the preventive maintenance of all machines to avoid any production halts. Just before I joined Pauwels Consulting, I also took on a job as project manager for an installation company.

When and where did you come into contact with Pauwels Consulting?

I have been working for Pauwels Consulting since January 2011. A recruitment consultant contacted me about a vacancy as site manager at TUC Rail for the railway project 25N, also known as the ‘Diabolo project’. They wanted to build a direct train connection between Mechelen and Brussels Airport.

When I started the project, I had no experience in the railway industry. So, I insisted on starting as a site supervisor, rather than as a site manager. This allowed me to gain experience with the way of working and the procedures within the railway industry. My experience as a project manager truly helped me a lot.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Diabolo project?

Diabolo projectFor me, the Diabolo project was my first experience with catenary for train traffic of the NMBS/SNCB. At the time, several important civil works were already completed, such as the tunnels that were situated below the airport, the bed on the central reservation of the E19 motorway between Mechelen and Brussels and the railway bridge of the central reservation towards the train station of Mechelen. This was an important connection in which the station below the airport wasn’t necessarily a stopover station anymore, but where traffic could pass continuously.


After 8 months you got promoted from site supervisor to site manager and construction manager. That is quite a progression!

Indeed, after 8 months as a site supervisor, I was appointed as a replacement site manager. Later on, due to unforeseen circumstances during the Diabolo project, the construction manager couldn’t carry out his function anymore. So, I took on his responsibilities as well. I must say, I learned a lot during this project! For example, as a site supervisor I not only had to supervise the yard, but I was also in charge of all the work carried out by our contractors.

I also learned some valuable lessons as a construction manager. When I had just started, the Diabolo project was in the homologation phase. Additional tests and measurements on the catenaries were needed to finish the railway connection and put it into operation. I also got the opportunity to work on this, which was fantastic!

What do you like about these kinds of projects?

The client mostly takes an organization approach. A project is started, executed and finished. Most assignments lead to new projects and this offers growth opportunities.

So, there is plenty of perspective for the future. Collaboration with colleagues is mostly very good, you can always ask anyone for information.

Where did you start working after the Diabolo project?

In May 2012, I started as a site manager on the project that provides the new connection between the left and right banks in the port of Antwerp. This connection is now known as the ‘Liefkenshoek railway link’. Normally, this assignment would’ve lasted until 2016.

However, my employer was very urgently looking for an overhead line construction manager for the new line 50E, Brussels – Ghent. So, I took on the challenge of working as a High Voltage consultant on the GEN project between Anderlecht & Ternat. After this, a new world opened its doors for me, not high voltage as I had always known it, but the ‘real deal’: high voltage lines of 70, 150 and 380 kV.

I applied for a job at Omexom Belgium and was soon able to start as a site manager. As a result of my good language skills, I was seconded by Omexom Belgium to Omexom Hochspannung GmbH, Germany. They were assigned an important project in Belgium and I was given the opportunity to work as a site manager on the construction of a new compact 380 kV line. This was primarily for mast construction with French & Italian speaking colleagues. Later on, for the installation of conductors, I collaborated with German colleagues.

What convinced you to take the plunge into Germany?

DanAfter another follow-up project and interim experience with German teams in support of the execution of a project for Omexom France, I got a taste of projects abroad. After completing a renovation project in Belgium, it was clear that I did not shy away from foreign projects.

Because secondment via Omexom Belgium to Germany proved itself quite difficult at the time, I chose to contact Jan Fyens, Business Unit Director Engineering at Pauwels Consulting. We had kept in touch all those years, so I checked if it could be a possibility via Pauwels Consulting. With the help of Jan & Bernd, Talent Manager, I could soon start my German adventure!

Are you -to date- satisfied with your German experience?

Definitely, I’ve been a Project Manager for a little over a year now and although it’s not always easy as an outsider to integrate yourself into the world of the ‘Lignards’ (high voltage cable works), I have a very positive feeling. I am looking forward to the period to come!

If you could sum up your Pauwels Consulting career in 3 words, which would it be?

I could summarize my total career at Pauwels Consulting with the words team spirit, dynamic and competence. At the moment, I can express my  current feeling as ‘back home’.

Do you have any tips for future colleagues?

At every step in my career, I could count on a good collaboration with colleagues. Mutual respect and open, clear & transparent communication are important assets or skills. Not everyone is equally accessible to new colleagues.

I find it important that as a starting consultant, you show sufficient respect for the team you work for. This way, you can obtain a clear exchange of information. It works smoother, more constructive and above all, more pleasant!

What ambitions do you hold for the future?

Initially, I still wanted to do something within the offshore industry, for example working on a drilling platform or with wind energy but I think I’ll stay put for the time being. I have familiarized myself very well with this Lignard world and I quite like it ?!

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Pauwels people

Working as a Project Manager Labs: Joeri Vercammen

15 Jan 2020
In our series ‘Pauwels People’, our colleagues introduce themselves and their projects. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Joeri Vercammen, Senior Life Sciences Consultant at Pauwels Consulting.

Joeri joined Pauwels Consulting in 2015 and he has just finished an interesting project at Genzyme. In this interview, Joeri talks about this project and he shares some good advice for consultants who are looking for an interesting job.

Joeri, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Joeri: Of course! I am Joeri Vercammen. I am 41 years old, married and I have two children: Noah and Brynn.

“I am an entrepreneur at heart. I am very passionate and I love swiftness and flexibility.”

What do you do in your spare time?

Joeri: I like to spend the little spare time I have with my family. I also try to stay in shape by exercising regularly. In the gym, for example.

Where and what did you study?

Joeri: I studied chemistry at Ghent University and. In 2002, I graduated as a doctor. My specialty was chromatography / mass spectrometry.

Great! And what did you do after college?

Joeri: After my studies, I worked as an operational manager at an environmental laboratory for 6 years. Since then, I have been working as a freelance consultant with a specific focus on lab management challenges.

What kind of ‘lab management challenges’ are we talking about specifically?

Joeri: Well, I am responsible for the ‘rationalization’ or improvement of measurement procedures by means of a clever combination of existing equipment and new techniques. I also determine the right balance between throughput optimization (lean) and quality assurance. In my job, I really need a healthy dose of creativity and perseverance to find the right solutions to many challenges, but that’s what keeps the job interesting of course.

People of Pauwels Consulting - Joeri Vercammen

Why do you prefer working as a freelancer?

Joeri: I am an entrepreneur at heart. I am very passionate and I love swiftness and flexibility. I really don’t like the inertia or sluggishness that are often characteristic of larger companies.

What are the main advantages of a freelance job?

Joeri: I love the freedom to choose interesting projects and develop opportunities. I enjoy getting in touch with different kinds of people, building my own network, and creating new opportunities on my own within that network.

Are there any disadvantages as well?

Joeri: Yes, there are. I don’t like the uncertainty. You never know for sure whether you will succeed in the long run or not, which results in extra pressure. The best thing you can do to cope with that pressure is converting it into positive energy, but – of course – that’s always easier said than done.

“In my job, I really need a healthy dose of creativity and perseverance to find the right solutions to many challenges, but that’s what keeps the job interesting of course.”

Which of your previous projects did you like most of all?

Joeri: I’ve already worked on more than 300 projects. So it is rather difficult to pick a favorite. (Laughs). But if I would have to choose, I would opt for a series of projects I’ve done in the context of the new measurement technology ‘SIFT-MS’. This is a revolutionary technology for the analysis of gaseous components, and I have contributed to its commercialization. Thanks to these projects, I also had the opportunity to spend time with the producer in New Zealand (Syft Technologies). Beautiful country!

What were the timelines of your past projects?

Joeri: They varied considerably. I usually manage multiple projects simultaneously and I act as a gatekeeper for the approach and strategy. I also work very closely with dedicated ‘Subject Matter Experts’ in the name of the client.

Can you tell us a bit more about some interesting clients you enjoyed working for?

Joeri: Interscience comes to mind, a supplier of laboratory equipment in the Benelux. At Interscience, I mainly supported feasibility studies and the evaluation of new equipment. SampleQ was an interesting client as well. SampleQ is a supplier of automated sample preparation systems. Thanks to my experience in the field of Lean, I was selected to simplify manual lab processes and translate them into an automated alternative.

How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?

Joeri: To keep abreast of the laboratory market, I’ve been running a query on some job sites for years now. Of course, Pauwels Consulting is very active in that market and regularly offers interesting projects, for their employees as well as for freelancers.
That’s why I decided to contact Pauwels Consulting. I wanted to see what we could do for each other. This led to the first collaboration in 2015.

You have also just completed a great project at Genzyme for Pauwels Consulting. Can you tell us a bit more about this project?

Joeri: Years ago, Genzyme started research activities in the Technology House in Geel. These activities – including the construction of the pilot plant – eventually led to a first active product with FDA approval. In recent years, Genzyme has grown considerably. As a consequence, the Technology House was getting too small to accommodate all research activities in an effective way. Therefore, in 2015, the company announced the construction of a completely new MSAT (Manufacturing Sciences And Technology) lab.

What was the goal of this project?

Joeri: The aim of the project was to develop a relocation plan and coordinate the move of all laboratory instruments in accordance with the specific ‘Quality Assurance’ requirements of GMP and with attention to the complexity of the instruments themselves. In other words, I needed to create a logic in a complex set of instruments – over 800 items – by streamlining requirements.

What were the timelines of this project?

Joeri: The project started on January 4, the move itself took place in April, and the follow-up lasted until May.

Which parties were involved in this project?

Joeri: Let me think… MSAT management, representatives of the various MSAT departments, representatives of QA, validation, calibration, finance and procurement, project managers for the construction of the new lab and a site manager ‘lean’. In addition, we also hired a moving company and instrument suppliers for additional support.

What were your responsibilities during this project?

Joeri: I was responsible for the development of the relocation plan, the consultations with the moving company, the coordination of the move and I was the primary contact for questions about the move as well.

What kind of tasks did you have to perform on a daily basis?

Joeri: In the first few months, I mainly inventoried the various assets and I also mapped the requirements of all the MSAT-related departments. Then I coordinated the move itself.

What results did you achieve?

Joeri: In short? The relocation was successfully completed within the deadline (smiles).

What did you learn during this project?

Joeri: I have learned that planning is important, but your planning should not be too rigid. After all, there will always be some unexpected problems that can only be tackled the moment they present themselves. For example, we had prepared a tentative timetable for the removal of all items. We would move all items in two separate ‘waves’, but – thanks to the motivation and enthusiasm of the MSAT employees – a lot more items were available for relocation during the first wave. We decided to seize that opportunity and move all those items during the first wave, but this resulted in a lack of moving equipment such as containers, pallets, etc.

What were some of the fun aspects of this project?

Joeri: I really liked working with people from different departments. Thanks to our motivated team, everything went smoothly.

What were the less pleasant aspects of the project?

Joeri: There weren’t any, really. Or maybe one: to move some of the items we needed a crane. The night before we would use the crane I did not sleep very well (laughs). But in the end, the crane was installed and used without major problems.

“The Pauwels Consulting network offers many opportunities. I’d say: be open to those opportunities and actively participate in them.”

What are your personal ambitions for the future? What kind of projects would you like to perform next?

Joeri: Everything about the ‘lab world’ – in the broadest sense of the word – fascinates me. I do have a slight preference for top / down projects though. By this I mean projects where I can work on an organizational level, preferably in the field of R&D.

Do you have any tips for new or future colleagues?

Joeri: The Pauwels Consulting network offers many opportunities. I’d say: be open to those opportunities and actively participate in them. The first step – deciding to take a new direction – is usually the hardest, but once it is taken, everything will be all right.

Thanks for sharing this wisdom with us Joeri. And thank you very much for this interview!

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Pauwels people

Working as a Senior Project Engineer: Patrik Ingels

04 Dec 2019
In our series Pauwels People, our colleagues introduce themselves and talk about how they experience working at Pauwels Consulting and with our clients. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Patrik Ingels, Senior Project Engineer at Pauwels Consulting.

Hello Patrik, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Patrik: Of course! My name is Patrik Ingels. I’m 45, married and I have two children, aged 14 and 16.

What do you do in your spare time?

Patrik: Well, in my spare time, I like restoring classic cars. As a child, I was very passionate about cars, especially classic cars. And now I own an old beetle and a Russian sidecar, but I like to help other enthusiasts as well.

What did you study?

Patrik: I studied Electromechanical Engineering at Thomas More in Geel.

Why exactly did you choose these studies?

Patrik: I didn’t know right away what I wanted to study, but I always had had a healthy interest in technology. Eventually, I based my choice on that interest.

What is your professional background?

Patrik: I have been employed at a large pharmaceutical company in Belgium for 20 years. I’ve held several positions in different sectors: manufacturing, engineering, quality assurance, qualification and validation. After that, I started working as a freelancer.

Why do you prefer working as a freelancer?

Patrik: I was looking for a new challenge. Part two of my career, so to speak. (Smiles) I wanted to spread my wings and explore new horizons on my own.

People of Pauwels Consulting - Patrik Ingels - Keep calm and dig in.

What are the main advantages?

Patrik: As a freelancer, you have a certain freedom and independence. I love that. You can also prevent yourself from getting “absorbed” by one company.

Are there any disadvantages as well?

Patrik: Of course! It’s quite difficult to handle all the extra administration on your own, for example.

How long have you been working as a freelancer?

Patrik: Not that long: since January 1st, 2016. I’m currently working on my first freelance assignment, actually. I had the unique opportunity to participate in a “greenfield project”. Those are still quite rare in Belgium.

How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?

Patrik: I already knew some consultants and freelancers who worked for Pauwels Consulting, and I had heard good things. Eventually, I contacted Pauwels Consulting myself when I decided to start working as a freelancer.

“The executives at Pauwels Consulting are open to comments and suggestions. I think that’s a big plus.”
What was your first impression of the company?

Patrik: I got the impression that Pauwels Consulting is managed by a young team who know what they’re doing. The company also made a very efficient impression.

And does the company still live up to those expectations?

Patrik: They do, actually. The communication is swift and efficient, and projects are followed up closely. The executives at Pauwels Consulting are open to comments and suggestions as well. I think that’s a big plus.

Can you tell us a bit more about your current project?

Patrik: I am currently working as a Senior Project Engineer at a pharmaceutical company. They are building a new factory for the production of polymers, tablets and sterile forms.

What are your responsibilities during this project?

Patrik: I’m responsible for the ‘injectables’: the purchase of equipment, installation, start-up, qualification and validation. At the moment, I am also temporarily responsible for the coordination, qualification and validation of a product that will be launched soon.

What do you find interesting about this project?

Patrik: It’s a job with a lot of variety, and there are few house rules. I like that. There is room for independence and flexibility. Sometimes I help colleagues by doing things that are not really part of my job description, for example. I also like to pursue one goal with a relatively small team.

Do you learn many new things during this project?

Patrik: I do. I learn a great deal every day, especially since it’s my first work experience with hormonal products. And I’ve also improved my French, actually. (Laughs)

What kind of projects would you like to work on in the future?

Patrik: I would like to keep working as a Project Engineer. So keep doing what I’m doing now, I suppose.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? An inspiring wisdom, quote or citation perhaps?

“Keep calm and dig in.”

Patrik: I really like that quote. It suits me.

Thank you very much for this lovely interview, Patrik. I wish you all the best for the future!

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Maxime van Belle Content Marketeer

Pauwels people

Working as a QA Project Manager – Soeren Raahauge

04 Dec 2019
In our series ‘Pauwels People’, our colleagues introduce themselves and talk about how they experience working at Pauwels Consulting and with our clients. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Soeren Raahauge, QA Project Manager at a big pharmaceutical company.
Soeren, can you briefly introduce yourself?

Sure, my name is Soeren Raahauge and I am originally from Denmark. I have been living in Belgium since September 2015. Eventually, I decided to move here because my girlfriend lives in Belgium.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like spending time with my girlfriend and friends, working in the garden or going for a run in the countryside.

Lovely! What did you study?

I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Economics and Business Administration, and a Master’s Degree of Science in Supply Chain Management from Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.

Why did you choose these studies?

I have always been interested in management and in the optimization of business processes. Supply Chain Management appealed to me because – at the same time – it has both a high-level perspective as well as a detailed low-level focus.

On a high level, it teaches you how the different parts of the supply chain interact and need to work together to function in an optimal way. On a low level, you learn how to optimize sub-processes in different parts of the supply chain, for example how to optimize production processes via the use of LEAN management tools.

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background or working experience?

After finishing high school, I joined the army where I was appointed sergeant of an armed mortar section. This experience sparked my interest in people and process management. I knew I wanted to continue working in a field that enabled me to grow, improve and gain influence.

After my studies at the Copenhagen Business school, I was fortunate to get a Management Trainee position for 2 years in one of Europe’s biggest textile service companies. In this position, I was responsible for 4 different projects in different parts of the supply chain. That’s how I learned a lot about managing projects and delivering results in a relatively short time span.

After the Management Traineeship, I continued as a Distribution and Production Manager, and later as an internal consultant, optimizing the transportation setups for customer deliveries in Denmark.

The last 2,5 years before moving to Belgium, I had the opportunity to work as a Project Manager in an international pharma company based in Denmark. Here, I was responsible for the global distribution setups.

Thanks to this role, I gained a lot of experience in managing international tenders, conducting audits of existing and future business partners, and securing Good Distribution Practice in global supply chains.

How did you end up at Pauwels Consulting?

After moving to Belgium, I looked for consulting opportunities, and I was approached by one of the recruitment consultants of Pauwels who had seen my CV on the internet.

What was your first impression of Pauwels Consulting?

Very positive. The colleagues are very friendly and knowledgeable at Pauwels. I received offers from other consulting companies as well, but Pauwels was the most professional and efficient in dealing with clients. That’s why I chose to start here.

Did your first impression match the reality of everyday business at Pauwels Consulting?

Yes, I am very happy to work as a Pauwels Consulting consultant.

It’s a continuously growing and financially healthy company that looks after its employees.

Pauwels Consulting organizes great events as well. The yearly new year’s party, for example, always has a specific theme. People dress up and have a great time with good food and great music.

Can you tell us a bit more about your current project?

I’m currently working on a 2-year project for a large pharmaceutical company. The project is a follow-up or extension of a previous project that led to the construction of a new European distribution center in Belgium, the optimization of distribution setups, and the implementation of the same Enterprise Resource Planning system in all West European countries.

My project focuses on doing the same for the East European countries: implementing a new ERP system and optimizing the physical distribution setups in all East European countries.

What’s the goal of your current project?

The goal is to ensure that – eventually – all European countries will be using the same ERP system, and that the impacted countries will have optimized their supply chains accordingly in a compliant manner.

What are the eventual benefits of this project?

Implementing the same ERP-system in all European countries results in more transparency and allows for better control of the European supply chains. Before this project, the different countries involved used different IT-systems.

In the future, all countries will be using the same system. This will enable synergies: standardized processes for order handling, better production planning and better quality management via the improved visibility of the products’ state and location in the supply chain, for example.

Using the same IT-system is a great foundation for a more agile and fast-adapting organization. After all, new concepts can be implemented faster across borders using the same system as opposed to using different systems.

What are your responsibilities during this project?

I am the Workstream Lead for Quality, which means that I am responsible for ensuring good implementation of all quality-related activities in the project.

I also function as a link between the local quality people affected by the project and the project team, making sure that any local risks are met in the proper way from a project perspective, and that all quality-related project objectives are met through the involvement of the local teams.

What are the timelines of this project?

The project started in January 2016 and will end in 2018. At the moment, there’s not yet an official final deadline.

“You will receive the best input if the people who are providing it feel that you are genuinely interested in the subject and easily accessible.”
What does a typical workday look like for you?

In the morning, I drive to the office at the European Distribution Center. Because my project is international, I have a lot of conference calls to coordinate the next steps of the project waves with the different stakeholders. I think – on average – I have about 4 conference calls a day.

When I am not in a call, I mostly work on the different follow-up tasks agreed upon in the calls, and on tasks related to moving the projects forward in accordance with the different project plans.

Normally, I also travel 3 to 4 days a month to the different countries involved in the project to meet my contacts face to face and discuss the challenges and next steps for the project.

What do you like about this project?

It is an international project, including a lot of different functions and different countries, so I learn a lot from working with people who have different cultural backgrounds and responsibilities. I also get to travel to countries I otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to visit.

What important lessons have you learned in the past months, during this project?

I have learned that you should never underestimate the power of local health authorities. Even though most of the countries impacted by the project are members of the EU – complying to the same guidelines for Good Distribution Practice – these guidelines aren’t always interpreted in the same way in Eastern Europe and Western Europe.

This means that – if local authorities view the laws differently, or have stricter requirements – it can be difficult to implement the project as planned. So basically, you learn to be flexible and to find the solution that best fits the local context.

Could you give an example of a difference in interpretation between Eastern and Western Europe?

Communicating with the Health Authorities in Eastern Europe is more complicated than communicating with those in Western Europe. In my experience, the Health Authorities are more pragmatic in Western Europe. And if you can prove that your future activities are compliant with EU GDP guidelines, they are OK with your operations in their country.

In Eastern Europe, the health authorities are stricter in their interpretations of Good Distribution Practice. It is more difficult to talk freely and have a pragmatic discussion with them, and they prefer companies working under licenses granted by themselves, rather than working under EU licenses issued by Health Authorities from other EU countries.

What would you like to do after this project? What are your ambitions for the future?

I would like to continue working on projects that are related to either quality or the optimization of supply chain processes.

My main ambition for the future is to continue learning new things and getting better at the things I already know. I hope to be able to participate in projects in which I can grow as a person, both professionally and personally.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? An inspiring wisdom, quote or citation perhaps?

When I think about other project managers I have worked with in the past, the ones getting the best long term results are the ones that have an objective, open and pragmatic mindset and a good sense of distinguishing root causes from side issues.

There’s one particular quote I like from former successful football manager of Manchester United Alex Ferguson, who often said to his players:

“Play the game, not the occasion.”

What he means is that players need to keep their focus on the agreed game plan. They shouldn’t be negatively influenced or too impressed by the circumstances surrounding the game they are about to play.

Ferguson’s quote reminds me of the importance of having a plan I can stick to, even if different stakeholders want to influence the outcome of the project in other directions.

If you are not mindful of this aspect of Project Management, and if you are not able to stick to your initial plan, you may end up with a solution that is only good for the minority of the stakeholders, not for the majority.

So – as I see it – the plan you create is key to getting success with projects. And the best advice I can give when creating a new plan for a project is to stay humble and open to the different inputs you receive. After all, the quality of your plan depends on the quality of the input you receive from the different stakeholders. This input forms the basis of your analysis and plan creation.

That’s why people skills are very important. You will receive the best input if the people who are providing it feel that you are genuinely interested in the subject and easily accessible. If you have a good relationship with the different stakeholders involved, they will also contact you again with follow-up information, and – in turn – they will be accessible should you ever need any help in the future.

When I receive the input I need to start my analysis, I try to process it as objectively as possible. This way, I know that my plan will not be biased and that I will be able to stick to it in the future, even if different stakeholders try to change my focus or the outcome of the project.

That’s great advice, Soeren! Thank you very much for this lovely interview. I wish you all the best for the future!

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