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TMC masterclass: true collaboration begins with understanding each other's language

This year is the third time that the TMC High Tech Systems Creation Masterclass has taken place. It’s a two-year course designed to give participants a better insight into other disciplines, the dynamics of projects, the roles that other stakeholders play, and the challenges they face. Thijs Kniknie was a participant of the first class of 2012. He was a TMC Employeneur from 2008 to 2014 and is now working as Principle Mechatronics Engineer at NXP: “I was working for TMC Mechatronics at the time, and I talked a lot with Edwin de Zeeuw, Director of TMC Mechatronics about how TMC could add even more value to our Employeneurs. When Edwin came up with the idea of the Masterclass, I was very enthusiastic and naturally one of the first people to sign up.”

Influence on Management and Marketing

“In my work, I noticed that other disciplines, management and the whole commercial story that surrounds it were constantly influencing my work. When that happens you can do two things: you can keep working in isolation and articulate the essential preconditions you need to do your job, or you can try to influence the people around you. The latter is much more effective in my experience. That’s why I found the TMC Masterclass so interesting. You get to learn about all these other disciplines, their specific language and the challenges they face. It makes working together much easier. And when you show management and colleagues in other disciplines that you are willing to think in their terms you also greatly improve the success potential of the projects you are working on.”

Finding solutions in other disciplines

“Working in isolation you could end up being very ineffective and inefficient. For instance, when I was working in my first job, I had a problem with the calibration of a particular stage in a machine. I thought I could solve it by implementing a sensor that was even more accurate, because I believed that was the problem. But after a little while, thankfully not very long, my software colleague said he could fix it with a small piece of software that would bypass the accuracy problem. So the solution wasn’t found in the piece of mechatronics that was my expertise, but in a whole other discipline. So collaboration is the answer. But you have to take initiative to pass the boundaries. True collaboration begins with understanding each other’s language. Mutual frustrations because of misunderstandings are minimised. For example, the technical term ‘bandwidth’ for a mechatronics expert means something very different to an electrical engineer. The Masterclass educates you in understanding your colleagues’ language and the goals of their work.”

Masterclass opened the path to dream job

“It’s important to me to have a say within a company. I like to do that – to influence the roadmap and to understand the commercial interests, so that I can make a valuable contribution. The Masterclass has put me in a position where I could do that. Because of the Masterclass, NXP saw in me the perfect candidate for my current position. Unfortunately, getting the job meant I had to leave TMC. But even in situations like this, TMC always put their people first, and worked it out with NXP so that I could have my dream job. It was a great step in my career, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the knowledge and experience that the Masterclass gave me.”

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