B4Plastics Team

A day in the life of: B4Plastics’ Business Developer

July 25, 2022

As part of our series about the daily work of B4P employees, today we interviewed Sil Nevejans: B4Plastics' Business Developer.

 

Background of Sil Nevejans

Sil Nevejans (29, Belgian) obtained her European Industrial Doctorate, while working at POLYMAT (Spain), BASF SE (Germany) and as a guest student at the TU Delft (The Netherlands). After that, she was a postdoctoral researcher at AVA Biochem (Switzerland), where she was responsible for the R&D of novel specialty polymers starting from bio-based building blocks produced at the site. During that time, she already worked in close collaboration with B4Plastics for a BBI JU Horizon 2020 project, SMARTBOX. Since July 2021, Sil Nevejans is a Business Developer at B4Plastics with a main focus on Sales and Marketing within the company.

Q. How did you get into a career as a Business Developer in the New Plastics Economy?

Already quite soon during my PhD, I felt my interest shifted from the R&D lab to the route to market of the material that was developed in the lab. This is why I wanted to perform an Industrial Doctorate in the first place. After having reconnected with Stefaan (as he was my master thesis co-promoter) during my post-doc, it seemed a natural next step to move back to Belgium and use my R&D experience with polymers and biomaterials as a business developer and technical sales at B4Plastics in order to push new eco-plastics to the New Plastics Economy.

Q. Describe your typical working day at B4Plastics.

In my role in our scale-up, I link marketing to sales and go through the pipeline: starting at lead generation going over sales qualification and discussing new projects together with business partners, often from a very technical point of view. This is where my polymer background comes in very handy. As I work partially remote, home office days are different than the days at B4Plastics. When I work from home, I focus on topics that require more concentration and organization, while when I am at the headquarters in Limburg, I use the time to discuss different topics face-to-face with my colleagues (e.g. R&D projects, upscaling processes, customer relations or just how the weekend has been).

Q. What are the skills you need to have to excel as a business developer in a scale-up company?

For a business developer in growing new markets, it is key to understand where and what the highest needs of the companies of that market are. More than talking to (potential) customers, you need to listen and ask questions, so you understand what challenges your partners are facing and how you can support them in the best possible way towards a sustainable solution. Combining a technical background with a strategical long-term attitude in terms of product development as well as partnerships is crucial. It is not about the short-term wins, but rather about crossing the chasm and building up a consistent image of B4Plastics as biomaterials R&D excellence center. Finally, passion, motivation, enthusiasm, optimism and especially patience are indispensable to keep on going for the long run.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

As we are dealing with new products, new materials and the construction of a new market, the New Plastics Economy, in combination with building up a company, there are a lot of unknowns. You need to find those partners that understand the challenges and are willing to take the risk anyhow. Those early adaptors want to set the example, be in the pole position when it comes to sustainability by implementing world-new biomaterials. However, in the current environment, with economical pressure and terms like “greenwashing” being used very often, it is not easy for green scale-ups to push new biomaterials to the market. However, with trust and transparency, we believe a more sustainable future can only be built by being innovative, pushing forward, taking risks, encountering setbacks, and learning from them. Better to try and fail and try again than to not try at all and blame others for failing.

Q. What keeps you motivated to go to work every day?

Belief in biomaterials and that this is the only way forward for the New Plastics Economy. Belief in B4Plastics and that we are offering a solution to provide a more sustainable future. Belief that we as a green team, all colleagues involved in this story, have the necessary skills assembled to make this a success story. And last but not least, belief in myself as a professional and as a person.

Q. What advice would you give someone considering a management career in the New Plastics Economy?

It is not (only) about the professional skills, as I personally also have a limited sales background so far. It is about what keeps you going when you face a challenge. You need to believe in a sustainable future and want to be actively involved in the search for a solution. If you feel you have that strong urge and you want to
keep on learning every day, you want to keep pushing forward, you are willing to take risks and you want to grow, you’re very welcome to join our green dream team 😉!  Check out the open vacancies or contact us for open applications.

 

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