Luc Mesmans: a career filled with innovation
Can you introduce yourself?
Sure, I’m Luc Mesmans, 63 years old, happy dad and grandfather :). I’m fascinated by nature and photography and I feel very lucky because I get to combine my two passions as a voluntary nature guide for adults and kids who go on school trips. Besides that, I like to travel with my camper.
How did your career start?
I’ve completed a solid technical course: I actually started as a telephony technician, but I quickly got promoted to sales in telecom & low voltage installations. In addition, I was also responsible for after-sales & spare parts. I’ve done a couple of interim jobs in automatization, facility, and aviation, but also management jobs in automotive and telecom. I ended my career as a consultant project manager in mobile networks, railway, and high voltage.
How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?
I was passively looking for a new opportunity and was contacted by one of your recruiters. He was very friendly and knew what he was talking about, which gave me a good feeling from the start. I applied and had an interview that went very smoothly and professionally. I decided to start the new job as project manager for Pauwels Consulting because consultancy offers many advantages: a variety of projects, a clear duration of projects and a whole lot of new opportunities.
Doing the same job for a long time in the same place with the same routine just isn’t my thing. I tried but I thought, no thanks.
Which projects are you most proud of?
I still remember my very first project like it was yesterday. I was responsible for the roll-out of a new cell phone network for a big telecom company in several provinces in Flanders, which meant that I had to find out where I could place 600 cell phone towers in the course of 5 years. Maintaining good contact with municipalities and the spacial planning department is essential to obtaining your building permits. Negotiations, construction quotes and the follow-up, delivery, and commissioning of these towers. Meanwhile, you need to find a sufficient amount of owners who are willing to rent or sell their land and that want to sign a 15- to 20-year contract. A huge challenge, but I’m very grateful that I was able to participate in this pioneering project and that everybody, also thanks to me, can call and send text messages ;).
At TUC Rail I worked as a railroad signaling project manager in Brussels. I was responsible for lights, barriers, track changes, computerized signal boxes and cabling for our signaling computers. On top of that, I led a team of approximately 12 people, which I loved doing. Such a team is easy to manage, you can easily communicate, pass on information, make the right decisions and get to the core of what’s going wrong. I once was a team leader for 70 to 80 people, which was much more difficult.
After TUC Rail, I returned to my very first passion, telecom. It took me some time to catch up again on what I had missed during those 10 to 15 years of absence, innovation does not stop. For Elia, I had to renovate telecom installations and high voltage stations. Visit all locations, make an inventory of all materials and suggest improvements to modernize. What started as a regional project quickly became much bigger… A beautiful ending to my career.
What challenged you in this type of job?
Variety is fun but it also means you regularly switch functions, work environments or industries… As I said before, innovation never stops. The evolution in electronics, communication, and computers has changed all industries at a rapid pace. This means, you are constantly being pulled out of your comfort zone, which I love but it certainly requires some time to catch up. In the meantime, your employers expect you to perform and achieve good results, but all beginnings are difficult. At such times, you just need to be able to sit down with your client or employer and talk about it.
During my projects, I also came across some ‘rotten apples’. Provided there is a bit of goodwill from both parties, the conflict gets resolved. Still, it’s nice to know that you won’t have to drag the rotten apple along for a long time. Next month, there could be a new adventure waiting for you…
Do you wish to pass on some advice to your colleagues?
Yes of course! Always be yourself and be honest, focus on your objectives and goals but stay humane in your decisions and communication. Everybody goes through a difficult phase in their project, so if you are not doing so great, just talk about it, preferably sooner than later. And always keep in mind, that with a bit of experience and improvisation, all beginnings become easier ;).
Do you have any pointers for Pauwels Consulting?
Just keep going, keep investing in my colleagues and their knowledge and be there for them during the difficult phases.
Do you have plans for your first month of retirement?
For sure, I will continue my voluntary work as a nature guide and I will definitely be mapping out some routes to explore with my camper. And maybe, I’ll reserve some time to chill ;).