Kristof, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kristof: Sure! My name is Kristof Tersago. I am 42 years old, happily married and I have a daughter and a son. The four of us live in Sint-Truiden.
What do you do in your spare time?
Kristof: I’m a big fan of board games. 7 years ago I founded a local board games club of which I am still the chairman today. I’m an amateur chef as well. After 6 years of evening classes, I can lose myself in the kitchen for hours. And – in stressful times – I like to go for a run.
What did you study?
Kristof: I graduated in Industrial Engineering at the Group T College in Leuven.
Why did you choose these studies?
Kristof: To me, the training struck a perfect balance between theoretical knowledge and practical applicability. I specifically chose for Group T College because of the additional management courses that were offered, not only for the pleasures of student life. (Laughs)
What is your professional background?
Kristof: I have been working on projects for 20 years now. I started working at a consultancy firm. That’s how I got in touch with several industries. As a project controller and project engineer, I have always had a good overview of the projects and the links and coherence between all the tasks and people in my projects.
After 7 years, I started working as a freelance engineer. At the moment, I mainly focus on projects in the pharmaceutical industry.
“Pauwels Consulting struck me as a team of dedicated people who are open to new ideas and who are actively looking for new ideas.”
Why do you prefer working as a freelancer?
Kristof: At my first consultancy firm, I couldn’t really concentrate on the issues our clients considered most important. As a freelance consultant, I am less dependent on organizational structures. As a result, I can respond more quickly to my clients’ needs.
What are your biggest challenges as a freelance engineer?
Kristof: It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur in Belgium these days. The complex regulations and limited long-term vision make it very risky to follow your own path.
As a freelancer, you also have to make sure your business stays viable, no matter how busy you are at work. That said, to me the benefits of being a freelance consultant still outweigh the drawbacks. I really enjoy my freedom, for example.
Which of your previous projects did you like most?
Kristof: Each project and each client has its own challenges. So It’s quite difficult to choose, actually. I really like big multidisciplinary projects though. They allow for conscious development, new ideas and personal growth for all the members of the team.
A project is almost always carried out in teams. Together, you have a common goal, and everyone is trying to achieve that goal on time and within budget.
That’s why it’s very important to me that there’s a personal connection with all my clients. This relationship of trust makes it possible to fully exploit the role of consultant and truly create value.
How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?
Kristof: Pauwels Consulting contacted me with an interesting offer at a turning point in my career. The project they offered was unique. And not only in Belgium! Luckily, my project at the time was almost finished, so there was room for a nice transition: no one felt left in the lurch.
What was your first impression of Pauwels Consulting?
Kristof: Pauwels Consulting struck me as a team of dedicated people who are open to new ideas and who are actively looking for new ideas. It is an organization that is not stuck in a routine and that really cares about its clients and consultants.
Can you tell us a bit more about your current project?
Kristof: That’s rather difficult because of a confidentiality agreement. What I can say, though, is that I’m currently working on a detailed study on the expansion of a completely new pharmaceutical plant in Belgium.
What are your responsibilities during this project?
Kristof: I am responsible for the translation of the customer’s process requirements into the design and for the development of a complete production environment. I follow up the purchase, design and delivery of the equipment. For the building and its utilities, we work closely together with a consultancy firm.
What are the timelines of this project?
Kristof: If all goes well, we will be ready for commercial production by the end of next year.
What do you like about this project?
Kristof: The total package. The project is not about one machine or one production line, but about a complete production plant!
What did you learn during this project?
Kristof: The project is an interesting refresher of knowledge I have gained about 10 years ago, during a similar project. Some things remain the same, of course, but it’s still interesting to study technological evolutions.
What would you like to do after this project?
Kristof: I want to continue working in the pharmaceutical industry. I’m still fascinated by big projects with many technical challenges.
What are your personal ambitions for the future?
Kristof: My personality perfectly suits the requirements of a project environment. (Smiles) That’s why I would like to continue working in such an environment.
In the future, I would also like to focus on ‘the bigger picture’: I want to be a part of the conceptualization of major projects and draw up site master plans.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? An inspiring wisdom, quote or citation perhaps?
Kristof: Certainly! Personally, I got a huge amount of inspiration from Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly effective people”. There are many interesting quotes and citations I could mention, but most of them are only effective if they are read and applied as a whole.
That’s why I’ll end with this short wisdom: “Be the change you want to see”. Be in control of your own life and be open to changes.
Thank you very much for this interview, Kristof. I wish you all the best for the future!