TML'ers have their say! #3

In this section we would like to introduce you to our colleagues at TML. This way you get to know us a little better and discover what everyone within TML is doing. Recently we had a conversation with Rafaël, Eef, and Sven!

Hello Roefe, Eef, and Sven, nice to talk to you! Let us get straight to the point. What brings you the most satisfaction here at TML?
Roefe: I like it when an invoice has been sent, it is a bit like the closure of a project or part of it. On the other hand, I don't like unfinished business. I now also do more HR work, such as figuring out the pension scheme in Scotland for one of our employees. That is quite a challenge. And the 20th of every month all VAT has to be calculated and paid, which is also quite an exciting moment to live towards.
Eef: For me, projects are opportunities to learn new things. I am quite curious. Sometimes there is a certain challenge in a project, for example something that is not standard, and I have to find the solutions myself. Then I start making diagrams and drawings to make it more clear for myself. That's how I learn at least somethings from most projects.
Sven: I think I like to do a lot of things. But every time I get extra happy from a solid chunk of statistical data analysis. If something like that crosses my path, then I can completely immerse, and even lose, myself in it. Every now and then I see my laptop screen glowing when the sun goes down, as I dive deep into data and become almost obsessed with it. Awesome!

Oh, that’s very thrilling to hear! Is everything always going smoothly?
Roefe: Ha, no! It often happens that I think I'm done, and then there is something extra that pops up. But the situation is improving. I am trying to increase my own level of automation. For example, we changed our accounting package last year. It used to be more pure input, while now I have a better overview. Even with all the checking that I still have to do, things are going a bit smoother.

And Eef, what great projects are you working on now?
Eef: At the moment I am mainly working on the ITACA project. In addition there are also some smaller cost-benefit analyses.

ITACA? Nice name, but what is it about?
Eef: It’s a research project on air traffic control. We are supporting the SJU (Sesar Joint Undertaking) by examining which technologies can be implemented more quickly. It’s very interesting work, partly because we bring something new to a sector that is very strongly driven by engineers and technology. In any case, I have already learned a lot of abbreviations, and was especially impressed by a site visit.

Research for air traffic control? You don't encounter that every day!
Sven: Don't underestimate TML… we have a wide range of expertise. And that with about thirty people, all specialists!

We believe it immediately! How do your working days start?
Roefe: I start it by brewing my coffee! Then I open my mailbox and check the most urgent matters first. That gives me mental peace. Then I start on the invoices and the like. I sometimes notice that if I'm not there for a day, the next day I have 50 unread emails when I turn on my laptop.
Eef: I also start with coffee! By the way, I have provided better coffee on TML, and I think that it is still my most important achievement! After coffee I start reading my emails. And then I turn to what I had planned. I also try to keep some time available during my day to avoid meetings so I can keep working. For some time now I have also been trying to limit every meeting to 45 minutes.
Sven: Getting up well-rested is important! And then I first briefly do something that has nothing to do with TML, such as looking something up for myself, or reading. Then I fly into action. First, going through all the unread emails, dealing with what I can do immediately, and giving the rest in my head a place to think about. If I was working on something before, I'll continue work on it, otherwise I'll grab my to-do list and look at what's next most urgent. Usually, it is that what people are waiting the most for, or for which I am bombarded with the most emails.

Ah, emails, deadlines, finishing reports, and meetings, it's your world. What did you find most difficult in the past year?
Roefe: I mainly had to get used to the way of working from home. Did you know that I used to ride on my bicycle with a cardboard folder to and from work every day? Thanks to the new accounting package and more and more digital invoices, this is a thing of the past. TML is also going to move, and there is still a lot of administration on my plate to organise everything related to the purchase of the new building. And don't forget, we recently co-founded a new company, Rear Window, which also meant extra work.
Eef: I miss our coffee breaks. And our discussions of what pastrie is, all of our other deeply ethical discussions, and the informal contacts. And if I had a small question during work, I could just drop by someone. Now there is more of a barrier that all contact has become digital, and this certainly applies to the more informal chats. The whole scheme has changed: before corona I made more trips, and I could prepare myself on the train on my way to a (next) meeting. Now there are more meetings for some of my projects, and all online.
Sven: In itself, I think working from home is not that bad. The deadlines have remained, but the emails and the meetings have increased sharply (although I am glad that I no longer have to deal with traffic jams). I remember sometimes hopping from one online meeting to another last year. But something like that exhausts you mentally and physically. That is why I try to keep time blocks available throughout the day and to better spread meetings. It is important to keep a close eye on the work-life balance. I don't mind working hard, as long as I can put everything aside from time to time and focus on something completely different.

We can tell… you are passionate people! What do you like to do outside of work at TML?
Roefe: First let me say that outside my work at TML, I also find it quite exciting when small crises happen, such as a burst water pipe, or even a fire.

Ok… let's hope that doesn't happen too often.
Roefe: Of course. I was also allowed to follow a first-aid course last year, which I found interesting. I am now also a volunteer at the vaccination centre. I also combine my work with two other jobs. So I have three laptops in total! And I am studying to become a data analyst and am now writing my thesis for that. That will come in handy in some of my jobs where I spend a lot of time on reporting. I also follow old-timer mechanics, more for my hobby. It fascinates me how, for example, they make older cars fully electrically powered.

Ah, cars, one of the things that TML does, except for air traffic control. And what do you really like to do, Eef?
Eef: I follow swimming training. That is very relaxing, mentally speaking. Someone tells you how much to swim, which swimming styles to alternate between, etc. Above all, it gives me peace of mind.

We understand how that can give mental peace, which is necessary. Finally, Sven, what do you do outside of TML?
Sven: First allow me to complain that a day is too short. Those 24 hours are definitely not enough to do everything I want to do. Anyway, we still have a whole life for that. During the academic year I follow Greek; it is a fascinating language, beautifully grammatically structured, and completely crazy to hear, let alone speak. I also try to master the piano, although I think it mainly controls my thoughts for the time being. And in the meantime I create things in wood, or I drown myself in microelectronics.

Thank you all for your time, and good luck with your work!
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