We are very glad to announce that on 1 April 2021, our new colleague Raoul Voeten joined the campus in the role of Commercial Program Manager. "Raoul is a real and important asset to our team, he has extensive experience in the space business and is a true entrepreneur with a technical background, an open mind and connecting personality, a perfect combination, I am really looking forward to all things we can achieve together" says Esther Peters (Director of Space Campus).
Raoul was educated at TU/Eindhoven (Mechanical Engineering/Process Technology 1984-1988) and further developed himself in the family business Bradford Engineering BV. second generation, of which he became a shareholder in 1994. In 1997 he (as the technical director) was responsible for moving the entire company to a new location and in 2001 he became the General director. In 2011 Bradford became part of a large multinational. After this, Raoul decided to broaden his horizon from just space to modular construction, sustainability of real estate and energy transition. A perfect combination of experiences for the campus development. When Esther approached him to share some ideas on the Space Campus, he got so enthusiastic that he desired to be a part of the Campus organisation.
On the social commitment side, Raoul has done a lot in the local area, such as board positions at the Starterscentrum West Brabant, at a start-up investment fund at Strijp S in Eindhoven and at the Care Innovation Centre. But he also participated in various advisory boards such as the ESTEC Test Centre Advisory Board, the TU/E SAI/DTI designers training advisory board, the Op Zuid Expert Committee and the industrial board at TUD's Aerospace Engineering department. Also valuable experiences.
To find out more about Raoul's background and ambition we asked him a couple of questions.
Who is Raoul? What distinguishes you as a person in your work? What are your qualities?
I would describe myself as patient but focused and adaptable. And I think that these qualities suit me well as an entrepreneur. I am technically educated and therefore have a lot of affinity with what companies, institutes and schools develop in terms of technology, products or services. It interests me sincerely and I like to listen to people first before reacting.
As head of the family, I want to take good care of my family. Together with my wife Annemieke, we are managing to release our two daughters (18 and 24) into society as 'healthy and right-thinking' citizens. I am proud of that, although most credits certainly go to Annemieke.
As an engineer/entrepreneur I want to improve/make 'things' better. Things may be objects, but increasingly also processes or organisations. Give me an old car and I'll find a way to turn it into a beautiful classic. Give me an old warehouse with new regulations and I'll try to get an up to date proposition again. Give me a hockey team and I'll try to make those girls champion in the pool. Give me a company that is struggling with something and I can bring 'reverse thinking' to the solution. In addition to this technical affinity, I am also starting to understand the human aspects more and more. Now that I think about it, I notice that my behaviour at home is not all that different from my behaviour at work.
If you want to call it qualities, I think they are winning trust and making connections in order to improve things or processes. Coming from a family business I grew up with "thinking in continuity instead of short term gain".
What are the main lessons learned in your work so far?
Patience, transparency, consistency and persistence make almost any goal achievable. Because I have had the opportunity to go through all layers in the family business and have been able to look around in many other organisations (also outside Aerospace and certainly internationally) I think I have a balanced view of the world around me. I don't get angry easily because it might be relieving, but it usually doesn't solve much. I have also learned that it really helps to be more selective in the 'battles you want to fight'.
How are planning to fulfil the role of Commercial Programme Manager?
Something with hard work and making things happen. Facilitating, stimulating and implementing. Physically visible in Noordwijk by actually helping to build the physical part of the Campus, but also in the NL space cluster so that everyone can benefit from the Gateway role in the best possible way. I think my international network is very useful in the European Hub role of the Space Campus.
How do you see the future of the campus? What will it bring us and what is your contribution?
We are certainly not the largest Campus, but we could become one of the closest. Space is at the beginning of truly commercial space activities, which means a lot for upstream companies in terms of opportunities for innovation in product portfolios. It is up to the Space Campus to optimally facilitate the necessary innovation programmes. But a major strength of the Space Campus is its proximity to ESA/ESTEC. The proximity and accessibility of space data expertise enables an extremely healthy and strong downstream service / data application business. As a dot on the horizon I see a downstream application developer sitting together with an upstream instrument builder and a spacecraft engineer. If we achieve that the conversation, ideally a chance meeting over a beer, is about how the up-streamers can come up with something to improve a certain downstream service or data flow to make a great application possible then we have achieved a great goal: business driven and knowledge driven. A sustainable ecosystem.
What are you looking forward to the most?
That we can once again supplement digital meetings with 'live' meetings. Trust and connection are crucial, especially when the Space Campus has to operate in a playing field of politics, economic interests, budget possibilities and with a multitude of players in the triple helix. Of course, spoken words are important, but there is certainly a lack of 'body language'. It really makes these kinds of complex and ambitious processes easier.
In addition, the forthcoming Basecamp is of course something to look forward to. That has been facilitated and stimulated, so yes, it should now be implemented, right?