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Testimonial from Product Manager Crop Protection Ward

Name: Ward Van de Velde

Function: Product Manager Crop Protection

Age: 25

Field of study: Bio-engineering

Location: Ertvelde




Why did you initially choose to work for Oleon?

During the bio-engineering job fair in Ghent, Oleon stood out as a company that puts a lot of focus on sustainability and the environment. During my job search, these qualities ranked high on my list.

The function of product manager obviously appealed to me as well. I was looking for a varied job that would allow me to use my technical educational background, while also giving me the chance to develop further in the commercial field.


How long have you been working at Oleon?

I have been with Oleon since September 2017.


What are some of the job duties of a product manager at Oleon?

All kinds of things. As a product manager, you have a very wide range of responsibilities. You are in charge of maintaining and further developing your product range. To do this, you interact with the various departments within the company: R&D, PS&RA, Production, Processes, Marketing, etc. This allows you to gain knowledge in several areas.

In addition, you also provide technical support to account managers and clients. You translate market trends into R&D projects and determine the positioning of your products within the market. You also reflect on the short- and long-term future of your application and support the business manager in developing a strategy.


What does your average day look like?

That is not an easy question. Days can vary quite a bit. The day often starts with following up on and replying to the most important emails. At times, there may be problems with certain products (quality, transport, etc.). If so, I determine and initiate the steps that are needed to come to a solution. This process often requires me to consult with several people within the company. In addition, I attend various meetings, participate in trainings and also provide trainings myself on the application for which I am responsible.

I visit our plant in France (Venette) approximately once every month, because that’s where the R&D team is based and the majority of my application’s products are produced.

I also consult with the account managers about what we wish to discuss prior to customer visits. And I occasionally visit clients myself in order to prospect for new business or follow up on a project. I’m usually accompanied by an account manager or an R&D colleague, but I also occasionally go on my own. I additionally attend various annual conferences to broaden my application knowledge and expand my network within this market.


Do you feel that your specialisation is well-aligned to this job?

Yes. The knowledge that I accrued during my studies gives me a solid understanding of the product’s operation and composition. Which is extremely important for this role. It allows me to engage in technical conversations with customers, initiate R&D projects, and understand potential production problems.


What does working at Oleon mean for you personally?

Working at Oleon means gaining new experience, continuous personal development and working in a fun and dynamic team.


What are the benefits of working at Oleon?

One of the greatest benefits is the team that I was able to join. The sales team is an exceptionally close-knit group that fosters a positive working environment. We’re highly attuned and help each out other wherever we can. We also organise team activities outside of working hours.


What are the benefits of the Product Manager role?

My studies furnished me with an extremely technical education. Whilst this knowledge is certainly indispensable for the Product Manager role, working at Oleon also provides the opportunity for further development in other areas. Within one year, I’d acquired considerable commercial knowledge and expertise for example.

The intensive liaison with other departments also gives a good idea of what goes on within the organisation, which makes the job extremely interesting.


What challenges does your job present?

As a product manager, you get to liaise with a diverse network of people with varying backgrounds, roles and personalities. Some are easier to work with than others. Effectively developing this network and building a strong relationship and rapport with those with whom you collaborate on a regular basis is a challenge for fledgling product managers.


Testimonial from Process Engineer Crop Protection Kaat

Name: Kaat Vermeulen

Function: Process Engineer

Age: 24

Specialisation: industrial biochemical engineering



What made you choose Oleon when looking for a job?

I was keen to start working in the chemical sector. This typically means joining one of the extremely large companies located in the port of Antwerp. Oleon is a large company, but it doesn’t have the same rigid structure as major multinationals. Oleon's commitment to sustainability also appealed.


How long have you been working at Oleon?

Since September 2018.


What does a process engineer at Oleon do?

At Oleon, you’re a process engineer in the broadest sense of the word. We’re responsible for monitoring production and fine-tuning all manner of process parameters (pressure, temperature etc.). Should a problem occur with a particular installation, then it’s up to us to find a swift solution that enables production to continue and ideally prevents the same problem from occurring in the future.

We also work proactively on optimising processes. A number of projects are underway to increase capacity and reduce pitch (waste) for specific products. My personal focus is presently on the quality of company products. I analyse data from previous productions, to optimise subsequent productions going forward. The findings can either be tested in the following batch or used to perform a synthesis in the lab. We also work on safety-related projects. My colleagues and I are currently working on a system to monitor and streamline the activation of safety valves.


What does an average day entail?

The first thing I do is read my emails. Some tasks are quick to complete and I can provide an instant response to the mail. I also check whether there are any urgent matters that require my immediate attention. I then try to get up to speed with the current production status as quickly as I can. I check what they’re working on and whether there were any problems during the late and/or night shift etc. If I haven’t been assigned any urgent tasks, then I can begin working on my current projects and assignments. We hold a regular fifteen-minute meeting with the process department every afternoon. We use this meeting to discuss production and any issues that have occurred in the previous 24 hours.

I’m still pursuing a number of extremely intensive training courses, which are invariably conducted by colleagues with a specific area of expertise.


Do you feel that your specialisation is well-aligned to this job?

My studies primarily examined the various aspects of the biochemical sector in a theoretical way. My job now exposes me to the practical side, which is certainly aligned to my specialisation.


What does working at Oleon mean for you personally?

Working at Oleon means continuing my personal development and exploring my strengths.


What are the benefits of working at Oleon?

Despite the group’s international nature, everyone knows everyone at Oleon Oelegem. This makes asking questions and collaboration between the various departments extremely easy. At Oleon you’re also given the personal freedom to search for solutions and propose your own projects.


What are the benefits of the Process Engineer role?

Process engineers remain close to the production process. You consequently get a good feel for what happens on the shop floor and how the installation/production actually works.


What challenges does your job present?

Maintaining the motivation to improve things and encouraging others to adopt the same mindset.