Team Interview 1: Joachim, Team Manager

The presentation of the new Punch Powertrain Solar Team starts with an interview with the Team Manager, Joachim Verheyen. He has to make sure that there is a good chemistry within the team, and you might take this quite literally considering his background.

Joachim, often students with an electromechanical or electronical background join the Solar Team. You have a background in chemistry and it did hold you back when applying for a function within the Solar Team, didn’t it?

Yes indeed, I thought that I would never get accepted considering my educational background. The majority of the members of the Solar Team have a different background. Apart from that, I was a student in an odd year, since applications to join the team only open every two years.  This does not mean that I didn’t follow the previous Solar Teams. I paid a lot of attention towards their adventure.

Yet, you became part of the Solar Team. How did the application process happen?

At one moment, I was standing at the atrium of our Campus Group T located in Leuven. I was looking at the solar car and started talking to the mentor of the Solar Team. Then I told him that considering my background, I thought my chances to join the team were limited.  He convinced me that this was not the case, because the presence of the non-technical functions like team manager, marketing, BR and PR. These were open to all the students and he convinced me to give a shot. Well, a couple months passed since that moment and now I’m part of the new team!

As the Team Manager!

Yes, I wanted to have a management role within the team in which I could encourage people to perform the best they can and help them by following up on their planning. I realized these ambitions, after my experiences in a lab. I had more interest in non-technical functions and I see this function as a good learning experience for my later career.

How did the application for the function of Team Manager go?

The previous team did test us to the maximum, in order to make our team as performant as possible. When applying for a function like Team Manager, you have to do a lot more interviews. One time, I came home at 10 P.M. after an interview that lasted about one hour and a half. The previous team had mailed me an assignment, telling me I had to make a schedule for the Solar Team starting from that moment on, until the race in Australia. As a little detail, it was due the next day at noon. I still had classes from 9 until 12 the next day, meaning that I would have to work through the entire night to finish it.

You’ve passed this test, I presume?

Yes, otherwise I would not sit here right now (laughter). But I understand why they are extra careful when deciding the next team manager. You have an enormous responsibility and it is important that you are suitable for the challenge.

And you are able to work under this kind of pressure?

I think it’s really important to have a general view about everything that is going on at every moment. Apart from that, motivating people to perform at their very best at every moment is a challenge.


You do not have to carry this burden by yourself, do you?

No indeed, the team is divided in four departments being marketing, mechanics, electronics and innovation. They all have somebody who is responsible for that department. They know better what is going on in their department, when there are difficulties I can help them solve it.


My last and most important question to you: what position will you claim in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, your next race in October 2017?

We go for the first place, without a single doubt.


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