A perfect blend of technical know-how and communication skills
Product Marketing Manager, Digital Cinema
Degree: Civil Engineer (in Electronics)
Working at Barco since 2006
Job description: building bridges between Barco digital cinema technology and the customers
Motto: "I try to live up to my ambition: gain more knowledge and skills, not necessarily more power."
Tom is bitten by a bug - the bug of technology and innovation. Shortly after he graduated as a Civil Engineer, he started designing methods to improve the performance of e-book readers. That was 2002. Most of us hadn't even heard of e-books back then … Impressed by Tom's exceptional passion and expertise, Barco took him on board as a technology scout. Today, Tom is Barco's digital cinema product marketing manager - a job in which he can seamlessly couple his technical know-how with communication skills. He loves the exciting new world of digital cinema. "At least this is a job I can explain to my grandmother," he laughs.
Tom graduated from Ghent University in 2002. In 2006, he got a PhD from that same university with a dissertation on e-book readers. "Indeed, a fairly innovative topic at the time," Tom recalls. "And yet, the academic environment lacked the vibes I was looking for. I needed more challenges, dynamism, the chance to shape my own future." A Barco High-Tech Award for his research work at the university opened the doors to Barco. With the award came a job offer: if Tom was interested in joining Barco's R&D efforts on display technologies? The answer was a resounding 'yes'.
"My main concern, as a product marketing manager, is our customers. I meet with and train our sales reps on new technologies and trends and, now and then, accompany them on customer visits or at trade fairs - to answer the really technical questions. Barco's technical edge is what sets it apart from the competition!"
"My job was to scout promising display technology, evaluate it in our R&D team and prepare Barco to work with it," Tom explains. To keep a finger on the pulse of new trends and developments, Tom frequently met with suppliers, research institutes and other experts and roamed the world's technical trade fairs. "It was exciting to spot budding technologies," he continues. "Everything that's hot today: I've seen it years ago!" Tom enjoyed this innovative aspect of his job, the freedom he got and the room for creativity. Still, after four years, he was ready for a fresh challenge: "I wanted to work on something more tangible, that involved customer contact and where I could use the managerial skills acquired during my MBA at Vlerick." That opportunity came in 2010. When Barco decided to strengthen its digital cinema team to cater to the booming market, Tom became digital cinema product marketing manager - an entirely new role at Barco.
The techie side of marketing
Tom: "While the product manager focuses on the in-house product development, production and supply, my main concern is our customers. I invest a lot of my time in communications with our sales reps - as they are the face of Barco. Through frequent meetings, often WebEx sessions, and training sessions, I keep them posted on our products and the market developments so that they have a meaningful, consistent story to tell to our customers." Now and then, Tom accompanies sales reps on customer visits or at trade fairs: "Negotiating about margins or prices is not my thing. I'm there to answer the really technical questions. It's Barco's technical edge that sets it apart from its competitors." Thanks to the frequent client contacts, Tom can gauge customer needs - information he passes on to the product manager, to be taken into account in product upgrades or new developments.
"Barco is a really dynamic company - 50% of the products are under three years old -, which is reflected in the profile of its staff. Everyone here is interested in technology and trends and loves change."
Comparing his new job to his role at the Technology Center, Tom sees differences as well as similarities: "In the past I helped my colleagues discover new technologies. Today I translate new technologies to our sales people and customers. I can now perfectly combine my technical background with more extrovert skills, which I truly like. Another plus: digital cinema is a pretty sexy topic. It's nice to work on something that even my grandmother somehow understands or that I explain to friends when we go to the movies."
Deepen know-how and skills
And what about Barco as an employer? "Barco is a really dynamic company - 50% of the products are under three years old -, which is reflected in the profile of its staff. Everyone here is interested in technology and trends and loves change. The Barco University program and the great diversity of Barco products and geographical markets allows us to constantly broaden our insights and even change jobs - in different regions or markets - without leaving our employer," Tom says. "As for me, there's still enough challenges in this role to go on for a while yet. Barco is currently busy broadening its digital cinema offering. That's an exciting development that I want to focus on right now. We'll see what the future brings. In every decision I'll take, I'll try to live up to my ambition: gain more knowledge and skills, not necessarily more power."