Can you describe your role at Umicore?
I am a process engineer R&D for PMR in Hoboken and in this position I participate in the smelter research to understand and improve the process. This is a combination of practical and theoretical work, with, on the one hand, lab tests that need to be developed and sometimes tests on an industrial scale, and on the other hand, literature studies, calculations for simulations or analysis of process data. The knowledge we gain from this must therefore be written down regularly in a clear report.
What do you like about your job?
In R&D I can give free rein to my curiosity and continually advance my knowledge about metallurgy and other topics. You get time and space to investigate things thoroughly, but you are also pulled into the flow of production, where there is a bit more time pressure. The fact that both the field of work and the range of tasks offer a lot of variety, between the R&D bubble and the larger industrial playing field, is also a huge plus for me.
What do you like about working at Umicore?
It is a company with a vision that I can support and Umicore is also a humane company with an eye for human needs. I have always felt that if I have a problem, I can count on support from both my superiors and the HR department. Support not only in the case of problems, but also when it comes to personal development with a wide range of training courses.
Why did you want to work at Umicore?
With my degree, I could have worked in several places in chemistry or industry, but I wanted to work for a company where I could endorse the values and vision, especially the focus on sustainability. Even though I am only one employee among many, I do my bit for a more sustainable world by participating in the recycling of precious metals.
What do you look forward to when you leave for work in the morning?
The many hours spent working at home have highlighted how nice it is to be with colleagues at the office, where we can have just friendly and sociable conversations, but also be hugely productive when ideas are exchanged or when I learn something about other projects outside my own team or range of tasks. I feel I am part of a greater whole, where everyone's contribution is important.
What has been the highlight of your time at Umicore so far?
Since my move to R&D, I have worked on several interesting issues, but a research project on a new raw material that had to be used without causing production problems, in which I participated right from the start and which resulted in a Umicore Award, gives me the most satisfaction. Not only that recognition, but also the realisation that with a larger team we made this possible faster than expected.
Any advice for newcomers?
There are so many different people at Umicore, with different backgrounds, knowledge and experience, in a multitude of roles. Keep your eyes and ears open, there is much to discover! Not everyone will fit into a larger industrial company, but chances are there is a place or position somewhere that will suit you perfectly. I started as a trainee in the production department, but after a year, R&D turned out to be a better option and I really enjoyed that switch!