Electromechanical engineer Dries has been working at our client Proximus for a year now. In his role, he develops solutions that connect IT with OT (operational technology): he sees to it that machines can speak by analysing data originating from sensors using advanced algorithms. In addition to this, he also markets these solutions: meaning he combines the roles of product manager and business development manager.
What does he think about his job in the Proximus towers overlooking Brussels? And how did he evolve as an engineer into the IT sector?
expert in machine operation and a real sales talent.
Dries says: "I started out studying engineering because I wanted to know how machines work. I also wanted to design machines myself, on the drawing board."
"And that's what I actually did at the outset of my career. However, before long I realised I'd rather be closer to the client experience. How does the client look at a machine? And how can the machine be optimised for a particular client? I felt that there's where my passion lay."
"I gave that some serious thought, because if I evolved more towards a sales role, what would I then do with my engineering degree? I now know I had nothing to worry about."
"Sales & business development really is my thing, it energises me. And in the end, I'm still working with machines. Now I can take new initiatives myself and throw new ideas onto the table. I spot opportunities, write business plans and value propositions, and present the solution to the client. What's more, thanks to my technical knowledge I can point out the unique selling points better than anyone."
transition to the IT world.
"Before starting out as an AUSY consultant at Proximus, I mainly worked in the manufacturing industry", says Dries. "So, I was wondering whether I could find a way into the world of digital transformation..."
Dries continues: "As an electromechanical engineer, I know how machines are designed and maintained. However, data was gradually becoming more important in my role. My expertise in resolving machine failures and optimising processes was converted into knowledge of analysing data from the same machines and processes."
Thanks to my technical knowledge I can point out the unique selling points better than anyone.
"Since starting out as a consultant at Proximus, I've seen how much of a need there is to merge IT and OT. And so that's also my role: I establish connections and indicate what solutions the industry needs when it comes to connectivity, edge and cloud platforms and advanced analysis of the most important processes and machines. To me, the fact I can then sell those solutions to the client is a huge added value."
focal point among many stakeholders.
Dries says: "As a product manager/business development manager, it's important I'm able to win over and motivate an entire organisation. And that's certainly not always easy. Not everyone agrees with you, and there's opposition at every level."
"I'm a focal point among many stakeholders, and it's my role to ensure everyone's on the same page. Management of course provides feedback: is this really the right direction strategically?"
If you feel you're more drawn to a different position, you really have to follow your heart.
"Or take, for instance, a seasoned account executive, who'd sometimes rather stick to the old ways", Dries explains. "He knows the way he can do business nowadays. My proposals stand for innovation, and thus require greater efforts. The return only comes much later on. It's then essential for me to stay positive and enthusiastic – so that my vision gains momentum."
"In addition, I also need a large helping of creativity in the job; a quality that's luckily ingrained into me. You have to be able to think outside the box properly. I don't like stagnating, anyway: I'm always looking ahead to the future."
with feedback, you can get cracking, and change is positive.
"The most important lesson I've learned in my career is that you should never take feedback personally", says Dries. "With feedback you can set to work, it helps you to grow. So don't get put off if someone has an opinion different to your own..."
"What's more, it's totally OK if you want to change direction now and then. If you feel you're more drawn to a different position, you really have to follow your heart. It might be a major step, but see it first and foremost as an opportunity to learn more and to gain new insights. Change is positive!"