Aviation Academy

Djon Snel as Manager Innovation @ Hoefnagels Fire Safety

Posted at: 23 Jun 2021 | Faculty of Technology

In 2013, Djon graduated from the Honours Engineering track. After that, Djon went to the alps to become a ski instructor. Now, he is working as Manager Innovations at Hoefnagels Fire Safety. He will tell us something about his experiences after graduation and his outlook on the future

If this isn’t your first job since graduation: what were your others jobs at which companies?

After graduating I went to the Austrian Alps for a year to work as a ski instructor. During this time I have thought carefully about my further career. During my graduation period, I did a project together with fellow students in which we were allowed to take a look behind the scenes at various aviation maintenance companies and performed a baseline measurement with regard to process optimization. The latter has aroused my interest, but I could not answer with a resounding yes to whether aviation is really ready for radical innovations.
For that reason, I decided not to start working immediately but to start a master's degree that focuses on new innovations in existing markets, Management of Technology at TU Delft.

How did you get your current job?

My current job followed 2 years after I started working at Hoefnagels Fire Safety as a supply chain engineer. I started here after graduation after a recruiter friend introduced me to the owner of the company. The owner was looking for someone who could lead various improvement projects without disrupting the day-to-day business.
After working for Hoefnagels for a year, a new challenge arose. With the future in mind, Hoefnagels wanted to better organize the various improvement processes that were spread across the organization and large R&D projects by organizing them in one department. To this end, the R&D department was transformed into an Innovation department. This new department would be responsible for all developments and improvements within the company in the broadest sense of the word.

What are your daily operations?

As Manager Innovation I am responsible for the daily operations of the innovation department. In this department I work together with 3 product engineers, each with their own specialized products working on different R&D and innovation projects.
Our team is constantly developing new innovative fire-resistant solutions with higher market requirements, better specifications, new materials or different applications. In addition the team is also challenged to continuously improve the existing product range of fire doors and windows.
My daily work is therefore very diverse and no day is the same. From visiting new material suppliers to attending various fire tests or holding a brainstorming session to investigate new market potential is all part of my daily work.

What do you like the most at your job?

Fire safety is an underestimated factor in buildings. No one expects to ever have to deal with it. To make the link with aviation, the next time you walk through the terminal at Schiphol, take a good look at the floor, if you pass a red line, you have walked through a fire partition. This is where fire-resistant roller shutters or screens come out of the ceiling in the event of a fire alarm.
It is therefore a continuous challenge for us to devise and improve products that can make a big difference when it is really necessary without this being disruptive in a building design.
For me personally as a manager in a team of engineers, the best thing is that you learn from each other every day to solve problems in creative ways.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

At the moment I am very happy with my current position. Having had the opportunity to grow into a management position in this short time has taught me a lot. In the near future I see sufficient challenge to develop myself in this and to further expand the department together with the team.

What did you like the most from your education that helps you out nowadays in your work?

The most important skill that I learned during my education was the interaction in the different group projects. Being let loose on a project and having to find your way around new technologies or working together to solve difficult problems is something I come in contact with every day.
Furthermore, the technical skills and knowledge from the various lectures provide the basis for dealing with various technical issues in my daily work.

Are you still connected with the Aviation Academy?

Since shifting away from the aviation industry after graduation I am no longer actively connected to the Aviation Academy besides being connected and following some lecturers and fellow alumni on linkedin.

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