The drive of... Ynno van Erp

A production manager at the precocious age of 27, Ynno van Erp is exactly where he was planning to be in his career by now, which tells you a lot about his level of ambition. Next, he has his sights set on becoming the youngest plant manager, and he looks to be on track to hit that milestone as well. “I couldn’t be more grateful to Vetipak for the opportunities I’ve had,” he says.


You were just a whippersnapper when you joined the company...

“Ha ha – that’s right. Around four and a half years ago I was studying Business Administration at Radboud University Nijmegen. So I was spending a lot of time learning about business theory, but I really wanted to get out there and start working, as there’s no better way to learn than by doing. I also saw that some of my friends who were doing higher vocational courses were getting job offers from their work-experience companies, and that’s what I was hoping for as well. Fortunately, after having a chat at the university I was given permission to drop a few electives and start looking for a work placement – which is how I ended up at Vetipak.”


And then what you were hoping for happened: you wound up staying with us.

“Exactly. My final-year project – which involved analyzing all the business processes at Vetipak and writing a set of instructions – was too wide-reaching for the three months I had to complete it. But after those three months I was offered the opportunity to continue my project as a trainee, while at the same time being able to complete my Master’s degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”


“Vetipak is a flat, non-hierarchical organization that’s bursting with energy”

“Vetipak is a flat, non-hierarchical organization
that’s bursting with energy”


When did you really develop the drive to move up the ranks?

“I saw the company go through a growth spurt, and I was managing several improvement processes at the time. I was pleased to be able to do my bit, but that’s also when I discovered that the real work is done not in the office but on the operational end of the business. I knew I wanted to be part of that, so that’s when I told them about my ambition.”


So what happened next?

“I was given the opportunity to become a quality assurance manager at our Veghel site. Instead of going it alone, I was suddenly heading up a team. I learned a lot during those eighteen months, and a few months ago I took over as production manager at Vetipak External in Zeewolde. I hope to be able to see, experience, and learn enough here to be promoted to plant manager down the line. I’m really in the thick of it here – this is where it all happens.”


What areas do you feel you need to improve before you’re ready for that challenge?

“There’s really quite a lot! Particularly when it comes to leadership skills. I’m currently responsible for around 40 employees, but I’ve only been in this job for a few months. As plant manager, I would be heading up a much larger team and dealing with all these different areas. I would also like to learn more about the commercial and technology end of things.”


How do you go about that?

“Mainly by bouncing ideas off of my coworkers. I spend at least an hour on the phone when I drive home every day, just sharing ideas with people and asking for feedback, since there’s so much we can learn from each other. My colleague Eric Vlassak, for example, is an expert in manual packaging and assembly-line layouts.”


“Although I’m still pretty young,
they’ve never been condescending to me by treating me like a kid”

What do you feel makes you such a good fit for Vetipak?

“Vetipak is a flat, non-hierarchical organization that’s bursting with energy – my kind of company! I also admire the strong work ethic and no-nonsense approach of our people, and the best thing about Vetipak is the serious career opportunities they offer. “Although I’m still pretty young, they’ve never been condescending to me by treating me like a kid”


Final question: do you have any career goals beyond your twenties?

‘Sure, although I haven’t figured it all out quite yet. I’d maybe like to start my own business, but that’s something for further down the line. My priority right now is to successfully set up the Zeewolde site. It’s very important to me to get the entire team involved in that process!”