In uncertain times, AeroDelft has been lucky to rely on this group of individuals. For our final blog introducing all of AeroDelft’s departments, it is the turn for our management to come forth and tell about their experiences over the past year!


Tell us about the department!

The AeroDelft management department consists of Roxana de Nie (Operations manager), Sam Rutten (Prototype technical manager), Matthew Dekkers (Full-scale technical manager), Olivier van Haren (Financial Manager), Cristina Soto (HR Manager) and Jan-Willem van Zwieten (Team Manager). Together, we make sure AeroDelft runs as an organization. We make sure that all of the team members have access to everything they need in order to work efficiently. A big part of this responsibility is making accurate plannings and looking ahead at all the hurdles the team members will have to overcome in order to reach our goals. Next to that, we ensure that the values that we set up as a team at the start of the year are abided by and respected. Conflict solving and mediation is a part of this job. Over the past year, we’ve mostly worked online. But since a few weeks we have been able to meet more often in real life.


What do you like most about your department?

The fact that we form one group. Everyone in the management team knows how important it is to communicate clearly and thoughtfully. This makes it very pleasant to have discussions together. In the end, we all know we have to come to a consensus on which we all agree. In return, this gives clear signals to the team members working on the projects. Our team members know that they can rely on a solid management team leading them towards the goals we have set.


What are the biggest challenges that your department has faced so far?

The biggest challenge our management team has faced over the past year is definitely the covid-19 crisis. Since our start in September 2020, the situation has been pretty unpredictable regarding workspace allocation, team building activities, physical work on the aircraft, events, visiting partners, etc. We dealt with this uncertainty by listening to the team and involving them in the decision making on all of the aspects that were affected by the situation. Together, we managed to make decisions that were understood and respected by the team and therefore had strong support. Next to that, we became pretty creative with celebrating our accomplishments. We remember our online drinks where Matthew had biked from Delft to The Hague, to Rotterdam and back to Delft (50km!!) all while delivering small bottles of Cava to team members who had accomplished something that week. That was a really great way of celebrating safely!


What are you as a department most looking forward to?

As a department, we are most looking forward to our Summer Event on the 31st of July 2021 where we will be revealing all of the progress which we have made over the past academic year. It will be a great moment for the whole team to present what they have been working so hard on all while celebrating the end of the year together with our partners.


What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the progress that has been made in all three departments this year. Operations has put AeroDelft on the map this year and thanks to the great engineering work of both the Prototype and the Full-scale departments this was possible. I believe this is partially thanks to the management team being dedicated to the task of leading the three departments in the right direction. Even though at times it was hard to overcome the hurdles covid-19 threw our way, we managed to keep spirits high and we are working to end this year on a high at our Summer Event!


What has it been like managing a student team and what will you take away from it for the future?

Managing a student team has taught us lessons that we would have never been able to learn anywhere else. A student team offers a very safe environment to learn these lessons. Next to that, a student team is basically a group of people who work on one goal out of pure passion, no one gets paid. This makes it such an inspiring environment to be active in since – as a manager – one leads a team of very dedicated individuals. Of course, working with a team of volunteers brings challenges itself. Sometimes one can’t rely on the full availability of a team member. Therefore, the manager needs to have strong planning and communication skills in order to guarantee that deadlines are met. I think the best way to describe a student team such as ours is to think of it as a startup-light. We are often compared to startups but luckily we do not have the pressure of bringing a commercial product to the market. On the other hand, we do work on new tech with very ambitious targets. In the end, regardless of where our careers will bring us, we will take the lessons we have learned from this year at AeroDelft into any future job or activity. They are lessons for life!