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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 perse 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.