He joined Mercachem 10 years ago and still enjoys his work every day! Just like Mercachems Manager Business Development he started working as a Senior Scientist, but now he is Group Leader Process Research. And thanks to him his colleagues enjoyed the Mercabeer. Meet Richard van der Haas, PhD.
How long have you been at Mercachem?
‘In April 2007, I moved from Leiden to Nijmegen to work as a Senior Scientist at Mercachem.’
What is your function?
‘I’m working as a Group Leader at Mercachem Process Research. I am also a member of the Works Council.’
Could you tell us something about your daily work?
‘Currently, I work for a big pharma company that has outsourced quite a range of different process research projects. Most of the time, I am writing and reviewing reports, as well as discussing progress made in different projects with colleagues and with the customer. I also conduct experiments in the lab. I’m involved in project planning and regularly organize teleconferences.’
‘And as a member of the Works Council, I also participate in meetings with the Managing Directors to discuss a wide range of topics related to management and company policy.’
We heard that you brew beer. Did you happen to have something to do with the special edition Mercabeer?
‘Where did you hear that…haha… but yes I played a part in this. About two months before the actual 20th anniversary, I was asked if it would be possible to prepare a special anniversary beer for Mercachem employees. Since my home brewery capacity is only 20 liters per batch, it was not possible to prepare the desired amount of beer by myself. But, as a member of the local homebrew society (Triple-W), it was easy to find someone who could help me further. I was advised to contact Steve Gammage from the Bronckhorster Brouwerij to help me out and indeed from my own experience I knew that this brewery made excellent beer. The phone call with Steve soon resulted in this beautful result.’
Are there any similarities between brewing beer and your daily ‘chemical’ work?
‘Definitely! Brewing beer involves the chemical conversion of starch. After completion of this conversion, a large-scale filtration step is required to get the desired sugar-rich extract. The next steps involve boiling (with hops), cooling, again filtration, fermentation, bottling, and bottle conditioning. For each step, my chemical background perfectly helps me to understand what is going on theoretically as well as operationally.’
What is your most memorable moment working at Mercachem?
‘Some people would say that one moment that has been recorded on a security camera. ;) No seriously… From my point of view, the entire 10 year period feels memorable, since I learn new things every day and I have always enjoyed working in this young and dynamic research company.’
What advice would you give to (chemistry) students now leaving school?
‘Making a mistake is not the problem; the problem is not learning from mistakes. Be eager to learn and dare to bring in your own ideas.’