Paul Plettenberg, Program manager

To do this job well, you need to be prepared to listen carefully to people and bring them together around all kinds of challenges.

As Program Manager at Neways since October 2023, Paul Plettenberg acts as a kind of “lobbyist” between the various operating companies. “We want to sell a customer the complete package of Neways’ possibilities. I make sure that the collaboration works smoothly, both internally and externally.”

“Neways has many different operating companies, both in the Netherlands and internationally. They used to work independently of each other, but our aim is to work more closely together on overarching projects. For example, something is developed at Neways Technology in Erfurt and produced at Neways Riesa in eastern Germany or Slovakia. I bring the employees of these companies together in a team and ensure that they communicate with each other and coordinate their activities so that the collaboration runs smoothly. I am responsible for the financial aspect, the schedule and the deliverables, i.e. what we ultimately deliver to our customers. I am also the main point of contact for the customer and report on the project status.”

"Not everyone knows what the role of program manager entails, which makes it an interesting challenge."

Paul Plettenberg

Human knowledge

“Not everyone knows what the role of program manager entails, and that makes it an interesting challenge. Sometimes you’re seen as an outsider, as someone who comes in to say and dictate. But that’s not the way my four colleagues and I work as program managers; instead, we emphasize that it’s about the team, collaboration and results.

To do this job well, you have to be willing to listen carefully to people and bring them together around all kinds of challenges, and you have to question the motivations behind the way they work. You need people skills to recognize where the boundaries are between different cultures and how to communicate respectfully within those boundaries. Then you can make your own contribution and make changes based on the support. In this way, you take the team with you when it comes to why you are asking them to do things in a certain way.

Acting as one team

“Will my job become redundant if everything runs smoothly? That would be ideal, but also utopian. The ultimate goal is for the operating companies to have so much knowledge and structure that they can take over this part from a program manager. Then the boundaries between the operating companies will become blurred and you will act as one team, no matter where you are, and pursue the same goals.

But at the same time, we have to deal with many different products and situations. For one customer we manufacture a few products and the scope of engineering is huge, and for another we are dealing with mass production, for example in the automotive industry. A lot of energy is put into the pre-process, but once this is complete, not much changes. We have to take all these different situations into account in our project management.”

A bright future

“I get excited when results are achieved and when the program manager role has an impact on the organization. So acting as a Neways to the client and getting orders that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise because the client hasn’t seen the full picture of what Neways can do. The interesting thing about working at Neways is that, with the new management, we have recently embarked on a path in which we fulfill more of the role of system innovator, with a complete package of possibilities that we sell to the customer.

This is fascinating and gives us confidence that Neways has a bright future ahead of it in a great market full of opportunities. It’s nice to be part of this process and it’s always nice to work in a company with nice, professional colleagues that is trending upwards; not only in terms of turnover, but also in terms of efficiency, improvements and potential for the future.”