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Professional journey to engineering evolution

20-12-23, 12:22

Looking back on a remarkable 17-year professional journey, Gert Jan Veenstra progressed from an engineer to his current role as Technical Director at Von Gahlen. His personal career parallels the growth of Von Gahlen itself, transforming from a demand-driven entity to a company specializing in customer-focused solutions. This narrative unfolds the progression of Gert Jan and Von Gahlen’s development over the years.

Gert Jan started his career in 2004 as a project engineer, gradually ascending to lead engineer and eventually, engineering manager. His entry into Von Gahlen was sparked by a newspaper vacancy shared by his father, this is a moment he recalls vividly: “I remember my father came to me with a vacancy of Von Gahlen in the newspaper. This sounded interesting to me, so I decided to apply for the job.” Over time, he identified areas for improvement, contributing significantly to his personal and professional growth. This growth was not solitary; Gert Jan actively shared his knowledge, encouraging collective advancement within the team.

Evolution of expertise and project approach at Von Gahlen

Parallel to Gert Jan's journey, Von Gahlen underwent substantial evolution, expanding not just in revenue and workforce but also in project complexity. The commitment to long-term partnerships and knowledge-sharing throughout the project process became a foundation. Reflecting on this shift, Gert Jan notes: “In the initial stages of my career, our operational approach was largely centered on client directives. Nowadays, we have more knowledge of the products and their applications. We significantly enhanced the professionalism in our work and projects.” The adoption of the V-model project approach marked a crucial change, ensuring that every project requirement was embedded in the hot cell design.

Pushing boundaries with hot cell lines

Gert Jan's inner technician still thrives on the challenge of large, intricate projects: "Initially, we worked on what could be considered 'simple' hot cells. However, today, we're constructing entire hot cell lines with automated functions and integrated systems such as dispensing equipment or HPV decontamination systems. My personal favorites are the more complex projects we have done the last years. These projects push our organization to new heights, incorporating conveyor belt systems, comprehensive liquid distribution systems and more." 

In these type of projects, meticulous documentation was crucial. From activities and measurements, to cleaning protocols integrated into the software. Gert Jan: “Our approach centered entirely around the customer’s specific processes, making the design and development of these hot cells incredibly complex. It was an intricate task, but I'm immensely proud of our team for the realization of these type of projects. I even kept a notepad filled with sketches outlining the vision, and witnessing the final projects come together was truly astonishing.”

Charting the future

As the newly appointed Technical Director, Gert Jan is actively shaping Von Gahlen's future. Beyond project management, he envisions the advancement of the Research and Development department to stay aligned with a dynamic product portfolio. Gert Jan also aims to enhance customer awareness of Von Gahlen's superior documentation practices: “I would like to make our quality of documentation more known to our customers. We have an exceptionally good and qualitative way of documenting.” This new role broadens his perspective, focusing on the company's long-term aspirations while maintaining active involvement in intricate, large-scale projects.

Gert Jan Veenstra's narrative not only traces his personal and professional growth but also mirrors Von Gahlen's evolution into a leading entity, emphasizing innovation, knowledge-sharing, and a commitment to excellence.

Gert Jan